Social Security Benefits Planner: Disability

Disability Benefits Planner

All about Disability – Applying for benefits and receiving them is great, but what isn’t so great is having to deal with all the bureaucracy and rules that all benefits come with.

The SSA site has a whole page covering the benefits and criteria for eligibility for the disability-related services provided by the government.

There are many guides within the government page, and all these guides will be covered in this article.


What programs provide disability benefits

There are two government programs that benefit disabled citizens: the Social Security disability insurance and the SSI program.

The Social Security disability insurance provides benefits for you if you worked for long enough and paid Social Security taxes.

The SSI program or Supplemental Security Income program provides benefits for citizens who have disabilities and receive a low income.

The criteria for eligibility varies for both programs, but both programs use very similar criteria to determine if one has a disability or not.

In this article we will mostly discuss the benefits provided by Social Security.

How you qualify

The guide, which can be found on the official government website, covers what criteria you must meet to qualify for any of the two programs.

According to the Social Security Administration, you are considered disabled if you:

  • Can not do jobs that you could do before;
  • Cannot adapt to other jobs because of your medical condition;
  • Your condition has lasted or is expected to last for a year or it is expected that your condition will lead to death.

The Social Security Administration determines your eligibility based on the answers you give to the five following questions:

  • Are you working?
  • Is your condition “severe”?
  • Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions?
  • Can you do the work you did previously?
  • Can you do any other type of work?

The monthly benefits for blind beneficiaries are higher than the amount given to regular beneficiaries.

The Social Security Administration classifies a blind person as someone whose vision cannot be corrected to higher than 20/200 in their better eye.

Also, people whose visual field is 20 degrees or less, even with a corrective lens, are officially classified as blind.

There are other instances where the details vary, such as for widows with disabilities and adult child cases, for more information visit the SSA page.

How you apply

To apply for Social Security disability benefits you can complete the online form, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or visit your local Social Security Office.

Claims for disabilities take time to process and the process can range from 3 to 5 months, so you should apply as soon as possible.

You can shorten the process by providing Social Security with some documents, such as information of your medical history and personal documents.

The documentation you should provide Social Security with includes:

  • Your Social Security number and age;
  • General information of the doctors, caseworks and hospitals you attended;
  • Names and dosages of the medications you took and/or currently take;
  • Laboratory and test results;
  • Information about the places you have worked and about the work you do now;
  • Information about your family members.

In case you don’t have the information, you do not need to delay your application, since Social Security will help you get the information you need.

In the case that your application is denied, you have the right to ask Social Security to look at your application again.

You can appeal a medical decision you don’t agree with here or if you want to appeal for other reasons you can do so here.

Family benefits

Certain members of your family can also receive benefits on your behalf due to your disability benefits.

The members of your family who can receive benefits are:

  • Your spouse;
  • Your divorced spouse;
  • Your children;
  • Your disabled child;
  • Your disabled adult child.

An disabled adult child is any child of yours who became disabled after the age 22, that is why the term “adult child” is used.

There is a maximum amount your family can receive.

The total varies, but it generally is 150 to 180 percent of your own disability benefits.

Your spouse can receive benefits on your behalf if they are 62 years or older of if they take care of your child who is under 16 or disabled.

After your child turns 16 your spouse stops receiving money, but at that time your child becomes eligible to start receiving benefits.

Your divorced spouse who was married to you for at least 10 years and is over 62 years old can also receive benefits on your behalf.

Disability: Approval process

Once your application is approved you will start receiving benefits exactly six months after  when the Social Security Administration considers that you became disabled.

That is, in theory, in practice you receive your first payment 7 months after becoming disabled.

This is because disability benefits are paid one month after they are due.

The amount of benefits you will receive depends on your lifetime earning averages and you can find out the exact amount by using the online calculator.

Some other benefits, such as pensions not covered by Social Security and workers compensation, may affect how much disability benefits you earn.

For more information on how these other benefits affect the disability benefits you receive, go here.

Important to note, you automatically get enrolled In medicare after 2 years of receiving disability benefits.

Are you working

In most cases, you are going to keep receiving benefits as long as you are disabled, but there are some other alternatives.

For example, if you prefer to work, and if you can, you can do that  and will stop receiving benefits from the government as a result.

In case you start to work, your earnings will be evaluated, and if they are considered “substantial” you will cease to receive benefits.

Another possibility is that your health improves to a point where you are no longer considered disabled; likewise, you stop receiving benefits in this situation.

The law requires that the state of your disability be reviewed periodically, in search of any changes.

It is possible to test your ability to work while receiving “work incentives”.

In this case, you will continue to receive the benefits for some time.

So, if you learn more about Social Security, click here.

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