Category Archives: Social Security Disability

Disability topics from Disability Benefits Home Blog

Why is there an age limit to SSA Disability Benefits?

Recently on our disability forum we had a disability applicant ask, “Why there is an age limit to get disability benefits?” Without more information it is hard to say if this question was from a younger or older applicant, but this blog will address both examples and explain why the very young and the very old often do not get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and the young

Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI was originally created as a wage replacement program for disabled workers. To qualify a worker has to earn sufficient work credits (by working and paying employment taxes) and become disabled and unable to work due to a severe mental or physical health condition.

It is not uncommon for applicants less than 25 years of age to simply lack the necessary work credits to qualify for SSDI because they have not worked long enough or paid enough in employment taxes to be considered insured.

Additionally, assuming the young SSDI applicant is insured, they are also less likely to be approved because, unless their condition and symptoms are listed on the SS Listing of Impairments (a listing of the conditions and symptoms the SSA considers automatically disabled), it is more difficult for a young worker to prove they cannot retrain for new work.

This may not seem fair, but most would agree that a 25 year old is more likely to have the ability to attend school or job training and start a new career than a 60 year old construction worker that has never had a desk job.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and the aged

Many workers mistakenly believe that they can apply for SSDI, regardless of their age. This is not true. SSDI benefits are not paid to disabled workers who have reached their full retirement age.

If you are less than your full retirement age and you are unable to work due to a severe physical or mental condition and your condition is expected to last for 12 continuous months, you can apply for SSDI, but once you reach your full retirement age your SSDI benefits are automatically converted to SSA retirement benefits and you will not receive your SSDI payments but will instead only receive SSA retirement benefits.

Now, what if you are already past your full retirement age and you become disabled? You also cannot apply for SSDI benefits; presumably at this point you would be receiving SSA retirement and you would not qualify for SSDI benefits and SSA retirement simultaneously.

So why does SSDI have an age limit? Because it was specifically created to help those who depended on a wage and were no longer able to work and who had not reached their full retirement age. If a claimant had reached their full retirement age it was assumed that they would able to receive Social Security Administration retirement benefits instead.

Talk to a disability lawyer

If you have a severe health condition and need help getting your benefits, talk to a disability lawyer. They are only paid if you win your disability case.

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SSI and SSDI and the Single Mom

We have many single moms ask if they will have an easier time getting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) because they are a single mother with kids.

Although many benefits programs offered by the Federal Government do give preferential treatment to certain groups of applicants, SSDI and SSI do not. For instance, Medicaid, which is a health insurance program supplied by the Federal Government, is given to individuals who have very low income and resources. This means that is not unusual for women and their children to qualify for this benefit.

Additionally, food stamps are also offered to households of a certain size who meet the specific income levels. Because many single moms and children have limited income, they may, on average, be more likely to qualify for food stamps than other traditional two parent households.

Who gets Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits?

The Social Security Administration awards disability benefits to workers who have a severe mental or physical health condition and who are unable to perform work for at least 12 continuous months. The SSA has two disability programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Social Security Disability Insurance is paid to workers who have worked and earned sufficient work credits to be considered “insured” by the Social Security Administration (SSA). When determining whether or not an applicant qualifies for SSDI benefits the SSA does not review the applicant’s resources or income from a spouse. Therefore, for this particular program a single mother would have no advantage winning SSDI benefits over any other SSDI applicant.

Supplemental Security Income or SSI is not dependent on a workers’ work history, and workers will not have to be insured to qualify. SSI, however, will require that a worker still be determined disabled, using the same criteria which is used for SSDI, and also prove that they meet income and resource limits outlined by the SSA.

Because SSI is only provided for applicants with limited income and resource levels, all else being equal, it is possible that a disabled, single woman with several children may be more likely to meet the income and resource limits than a married woman who is currently supported by a spouse.

What are my options if I am a single woman with children?

If you are a single woman with or without children, who has become disabled and cannot work, you can review the requirements for SSDI and SSI to determine if you would qualify for SSA disability benefits.

If you are not disabled, however, SSDI and SSI will not be paid to you simply because you have limited income or resources or children. You would have to see if you might be eligible for other federal benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps, and housing assistance because you will not be approved for SSA disability benefits.

Talking to a Supplemental Security Income lawyer

Disability lawyers can review your case and help you determine if you meet the basic requirements of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Disability lawyers provide free case reviews and are only paid if you win.

Dire Need- Getting SSA Disability Benefits faster

One of the most common questions asked by claimants is, “How can I speed up my disability processing for my Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim?” This question can take on many forms, but the bottom line is many applicants are in dire need and they need help now, not 2 years from now.

Homeless

In previous blogs we have addressed issues such as terminal illness cases, cases which are so severe they are on the Compassionate Allowance List or specific injuries for military personnel, many of which are approved for expedited processing. This blog will specifically address the issue of “dire need.”

Getting your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits faster due to Dire Need

According to the SSA, there are specific cases that can be expedited for disability processing if the applicant can show that they have dire need. The SSA has outlined specific policies and procedures which are used by the Social Security Disability Hearing Office and the Regional Offices to prioritize these cases, allowing them to process the most serious cases first. If your case is prioritize as dire need it may “jump ahead” of thousands of other disability cases and get processed immediately.

As mentioned above, if you have a terminal case, a disability on the Compassionate Allowance List or your injuries were caused by injury while on active duty (injuries must have occurred on October 1, 2001 or later) you may qualify for expedited processing. Additionally, the SSA will also process claims of a SSI or SSDI claimant with a financial dire need. Dire need is defined as the following (according to the SSA):

1.    The claimant is without, and is unable to obtain, food, medicine or shelter.

Dire need situations exist when a person has insufficient income or resources to meet an immediate threat to health or safety, such as the lack of food, clothing, shelter or medical care. Specifically, the SSI or SSDI applicant must not be able to obtain food or proper medical care because they are without health insurance or access is restricted due to financial resources. The applicant also must lack shelter. This means that they are homeless, the home uninhabitable, their utilities have been shut-off or they have been evicted from their home and have not been able to obtain shelter.

The person’s allegations that they face “dire need” may not be contradicted by evidence.   According to the SSA, “If the allegation is suspect or questionable, they will request confirmation through the servicing SSA field office (FO) and request verification before designating the case critical. If circumstances change and the situation is no longer critical, the designation can be removed.”

Each case is reviewed on a case by case basis. Obviously, many claimants are experiencing a “hardship,” but the SSA recognizes that if all cases are designated as “dire need” than this would “defeat the effectiveness of any priority plan for the processing of the most serious claims.”

The SSA will review the known facts of the SSDI or SSI case and evaluate the estimated processing time for each case. They will determine how fast the case would be handled if it was allowed to be handled through “routine processing” and see if an undue delay would exist or if the case should be given priority. The SSA has been instructed to “err on the side of expediting versus not expediting.”

Evidence to support your claim of dire need can include unpaid bills, a foreclosure notice, eviction notices, expiration medical coverage, bank statements, and letters from your doctors. Talk to a Disability lawyer if you need more information about proving dire need.

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Help- My SSA Disability does not pay my bills!

With the rising cost of living if you are disabled and unable to work you may be depending on a disability check each month to pay your bills and to make ends meet. On our disability forum we frequently have questions from recipients who want to subsidize their disability payments with a part-time job or need to know how to get more money.

Unfortunately, there are not a lot of good solutions. If you choose to work and you are receiving SSI benefits you will reduce your payment amount each month. If you are receiving SSDI benefits you could trigger a trial work month and eventually lose your benefits. Are there any other options available? This blog will address this question.

Options to increase in your income:

1.    Cut your living expenses

Most likely if you are on disability you have already taken this step, but I am often surprised to find those few individuals who say they are in financial distress but still buy the morning latte from Starbucks or have a cellular phone. If you have to cut costs it is time to get serious. Eliminate all extra expenses: turn off the cable, do not eat out, buy clothes from the resale shop and stop smoking or drinking.

2.    Investigate other services which may be available

There are government services which are available, but it may take a bit of work to find them. If you are getting SSI, for instance, you should receive Medicaid (in most states) at the time of your approval. You also may qualify for food stamps. Many SSI recipients can also contact the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for information about low income rent, privately owned subsidized housing, and public housing through affordable apartments for low-income families.

3.    Talk to churches in your area

Many churches have programs which help those who are faced with financial challenges. You may be required to complete an application, but many churches provide clothing, food and special assistance for the holidays.

4.    Talk to your family

If you had to wait two years to get your SSA disability benefits you may have already exhausted the kindness and generosity of your family or friends but you may have a family member who is will to help you. Is there anyone you could provide a service for? For instance, do you have a cousin who has a small child? Maybe she needs help. If you are physically able, she might be willing to provide shelter, food or money for several hours of childcare each week. Keep in mind that if you are able to provide too much help than the SSA may not consider you disabled.

Some claimants have asked if it is possible to get more disability money. The SSA does not pay any type of partial disability payments. This means if you were determined disabled by the SSA they gave you the maximum amount of benefits you were entitled to receive. If your condition deteriorates you will not be entitled to any more money.

What if you are getting less than your full SSI payment of $698 (the maximum federal benefit rate per individual)? Then some factor is lowering your payment. For instance, your SSI payments may have been reduced if you are living with someone providing food and shelter.

Lung Transplant and SSA Disability Benefits

SSDI or SSI applicants who have had a lung transplant have had a diseased or nonfunctioning lung replaced with healthy lungs generally from a deceased donor. Recipients receive either a single or double lung transplant when they have damaged lungs which are unable to generate sufficient oxygen to survive. There are a variety of common lung conditions and diseases which may make a lung transplant necessary including:

  1. Sarcoidosis
  2. Pulmonary hypertension
  3. Pulmonary fibrosis
  4. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema
  5. Cystic fibrosis
  6. Bronchiectasis

Risks of a lung transplant

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Lung transplant rejection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although advancement of medical procedures has made a lung transplant safer and more routine, there are still risks. The most common risk is a rejection of the new lung by the recipient’s immune system. Anti-reaction drugs are powerful and although they are needed, they may also cause other side-effects such as kidney damage, diabetes and osteoporosis.

Winning Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for a lung transplant

The Social Security Administration has several ways to determine if a SSDI or SSI applicant qualifies for Social Security disability benefits. First, the SSA will determine if their condition is listed in the SSA Listing of Impairments. This list, also known as the Blue Book, outlines the conditions and symptoms the SSA considers automatically disabling.

If the SSDI or SSI applicant’s condition is not in the SSA Blue Book the SSA will determine if it is severe enough that it leaves the applicant with no residual capacity to work. This process is called a medical vocational allowance. Older applicants will have a better chance of proving they do not have the residual ability to work.

Lung Transplant and Meeting a Listing in the SSA Listing of Impairments

There is a listing for lung transplant under 3.00 Respiratory System, Section 3.11 Lung transplant. The good news for transplant recipients is they are almost guaranteed to win SSDI or SSI for at least 12 months following the date of their surgery (assuming they meet the nonmedical requirements of either the SSI or SSDI program).

The SSA does not list any other symptoms they must have because the SSA assumes that if they have had a lung transplant than their health has already deteriorated to such a level that they are unable to perform substantial gainful activity.

The listing specific states that SSDI and SSI benefits are awarded for 12 months following surgery at which time the SSA will evaluate the claimant’s residual impairment. This means that a lung transplant patient will have an evaluation after 12 months, and the SSA will determine if they have the residual capacity to work.

If the SSA determines you can work after the review but you feel that your condition is too debilitating to work, you may have to fight to retain your SSDI or SSI benefits. At this point it may make sense to discuss your case with a disability lawyer if necessary.

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