Social Security Disability Benefits
Are you disabled and unable to work? Do you expect your condition to last for at least 12 continuous months? Is your mental or physical health condition so severe that you can not do the job you have been doing and would not be able to perform any other type of job? If you are disabled and unable to work, you may be able to qualify for income assistance through a federally funded Social Security Disability benefit program.
Benefits of Social Security Disability
It can be difficult and discouraging to complete the Social Security Disability benefits process. If you are suffering from a severe physical or mental condition and you can not work, it will be worth the effort. Not only will you receive monthly Social Security Disability payments, but you will also become eligible for medical benefits. If you qualify for SSDI you will receive Medical benefits after 24 months. Most SSI recipients will receive medical benefits immediately (only in certain states). You will also have protected retirement benefits and Social Security Disability benefits for your dependent children and widow/widower (if you die). You will also have the option to return to work if your condition improves.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) was an expansion of the 1935 Federal retirement fund created by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). Social Security Disability benefits were added in 1956 to provide disability insurance for workers who were injured, or disabled from a mental or physical health impairment and were no longer able to work. To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance your condition must be expected to last at least 12 continuous months, you must have paid enough taxes to accrue "tax credits", and you must be determined "disabled" and unable to work by the Social Security Administration. The SSA considers "work" the ability to make more than $980 per month for workers who are not blind and $1,640 per month for individuals who have a Social Security blindness disability.
Widows, dependent children, and widowers all may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance. Children over the age of eighteen also may be eligible for SSDI if they were disabled before 22 years of age.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits
The second Social Security Disability benefits program created by the Federal government is Supplemental Security income or SSI. Supplemental Security Income is an income replacement benefits plan for workers who are aged (65 years or older), disabled, or who have Social Security Disability blindness. To qualify for SSI, you must have limited resources of $2000 or less per individual or $3000 or less per couple. In many states if you receive SSI benefits you will also receive Medicaid.
In certain cases you will lose your SSI benefits or be disqualified from receiving Social Security Disability benefits. The following individuals will not qualify for SSI benefits:
- Fugitive felons
- Non United States Citizens
- Individuals who leave the United States for an extended period of time
- Individuals who intentionally reduce their income to qualify for benefits
Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits
If you are disabled and unable to work and your condition is expected to last at least 12 continuous months, it is important to apply for Social Security Disability benefits as soon as possible. The approval process for disability benefits can be long and complicated. To apply for disability benefits you can contact the Social Security Administration by:
- The Social Security Office can be contacted by phone at 1-800-772-1213 or online at their website www.socialsecurity.gov.
- The Social Security Administration also has several regional offices you can visit to meet personally with a Social Security Administration representative who can help you complete your Social Security Disability application and answer all of your Social Security Disability questions. On the website there is an office locator page and you can enter your zip code and find the nearest Social Security Regional Office in your area.
- Contact a Social Security Disability Attorney who can answer your questions about SSDI benefits and SSI benefits.
Your Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income application will be sent to the appropriate Determination Services Office and the Social Security Administration will notify you with in 60-120 days by letter if you have been awarded disability benefits. If you are denied SSI benefits or SSDI benefits you will have 60 days from the date of the denial later to appeal the Social Security Disability benefit's decision.
Social Security Disability Benefits Process
- Contact the Social Security Administration and complete a Social Security Disability benefits application.
- The SSA Office will call you and review your Social Security Disability application and additional SSI or SSDI forms over the phone.
- The complete Social Security Disability benefits application will be sent to the Disability Determination Services office where a group of examiners will review your medical records to determine if you are disabled. The SSA will try to send you a written notification with in 90-120 days to let you know if you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, but depending on the case load of the SSA examiner it could take longer.
- Your Social Security Disability benefits letter will be sent to your home telling you if you have been approved or denied Social Security Disability benefits. If you receive SSI or SSDI benefits, the letter will outline the amount of the disability payments and the date they will begin.
- If you are denied Social Security Disability benefits you can contact a Social Security Disability Attorney to discuss the Social Security Disability appeals process. You will have 60 days from the date of the Social Security Disability denial letter to file you're an Social Security Disability appeal.
Social Security Disability Benefits for Children
A child may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance if they are the dependent of a wage earner who has become disabled and is currently receiving Social Security Disability Insurance payments. The SSDI payments for the child will continue until the child reaches 18 years of age (certain exceptions may apply for full time students). The child may continue to receive Social Security Disability benefits if the child became disabled before they turn twenty-two years of age.
Supplemental Security Income benefits may be available for a child who is disabled and has limited income and resources. Part of the parent's income will be used in the asset and resource calculation. The SSA will determine if the child is disabled by evaluating whether their mental or physical health condition keeps them from participating in "normal" childhood activities. The condition must be expected to last at least 12 continuous months or result in death.
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