Social Security Disability

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What Are Social Security Disability Benefits?

There are two kinds of disability benefits provided by the Social Security Administration. These include Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for those with limited income and resources who do not have the requisite work credits to qualify for disability insurance benefits, and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), available to those workers who have insured status. When you apply for one of the benefits you are automatically applying for both.

What Are SSI Benefits?

The purpose of Supplemental Security Income benefits is to assure a minimum level of income for those who are disabled and who do not have sufficient income and resources to maintain a standard of living established by the Federal government. This federal system of benefits replaces those offered at the state level, including DSHS benefits here in Washington. Beneficiaries of SSI benefits may also qualify for medical benefits under Medicaid.

What Are SSDI Benefits?

SSDI benefits are insurance benefits available to those who have accrued enough work credits to qualify for “insured status”. You may be eligible for social security disability insurance benefits if you have accrued at least 1 work credit per year between the ages of 21 and 62 up to a maximum of 40 credits. A worker may only accrue up to 4 work credits per year. To accrue credits, you must pay Social Security taxes called Federal Income Contributions Act (FICA). A claimant must have at least 6 work credits to be eligible regardless of age. Furthermore, in order to be eligible for benefits you must have accrued at least 20 credits of the last possible 40 credit period.

SSDI benefits also includes entitlement to Medicare, which is our country’s health care program for those who are deemed disabled by the administration or are over the age of 65.

What Does It Mean to Be “Disabled”?

The Social Security Administration defines disability for adults as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.

Are Social Security Disability Benefits Available for Disabled Children?

Disability benefits are available for disabled children. Your child may be eligible for benefits if she is not earning more than $1,170 a month and has a physical or mental condition, or both, which results in “marked and severe functional limitations”, severely limiting your child’s activities. That condition must be expected to last at least 12 consecutive months.

How Do I Apply?

In order to receive benefits you must first file an application for benefits with the Social Security Administration. The easiest way to apply for benefits is online at https://www.ssa.gov/forms/apply-for-benefits.html. You may also apply for benefits at your local office. The Social Security Office in Spokane is located at 714 N Iron Bridge Way #100. You may call the office at 800-772-1213.

How Much Time Do I Have After My Alleged Date of Disability to Apply for Benefits?

If applying for SSI benefits you will only be able to receive benefits beginning from the date of application. It is therefore very important to apply as soon as possible so you can obtain the maximum of benefit you may be entitled to.

When applying for SSDI benefits, there is a 5 month “waiting period” subsequent to the date you are deemed disabled in which you will not be paid for benefits. Benefits can be paid for up to 12 months prior to the date you applied. Consequently, to maximize your potential benefit, you should apply within 17 months of the onset date of your disability.

Can I Qualify for Benefits If I Am Not a U.S. Citizen?

Social Security benefits are available to US citizens, aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residency here in the US, aliens permanently residing in the US under the color of law, and children of the armed forces living overseas may be eligible for benefits.

If you are not residing in the US under the above circumstances and but were injured while working be entitled to benefits under workers’ compensation and should contact an attorney specializing in Industrial Injury law.

How Much Money Will I Receive If I Obtain SSI Benefits?

This depends. Because this benefit is dependent on the amount of money a claimant receives in income or other benefits, the monthly amount a claimant receives varies. Some claimants for example may receive survivor’s benefits or spousal support while also being entitled to supplemental security income benefits. When this is the case, the claimant will not receive the maximum benefit. The most a claimant can receive from SSI as of 2017 is $735 for an individual and $1,103 for a couple. That amount is subject to periodic cost-of-living increases.

If I’m Receiving Workers’ Compensation Benefits, Can I Still Qualify for Disability Benefits?

You may qualify for SSDI benefits while receiving workers’ compensation benefits but those two benefits combined may not exceed %80 of your income for the period of either: 1) the average monthly income of the highest years income in the 5 years immediately prior to a finding of disability; or 2) the monthly average income of the top 5 consecutive years for any period prior to the date of disability.

How Does the Administration Determine If I Am Disabled?

The Administration utilizes a 5 steps analysis in making a disability determination. The 5 step analysis involves the following:

1) Are You Working?

If you are working and performing what the Administration calls “substantial gainful activity”, you will not be eligible for benefits. The administration will find that you are performing substantial gainful activity if you are making $1,170 per month or more (as of 2017).

2) Is Your Mental And/Or Physical Medical Condition Severe?

 Your medical condition must significantly limit you to do basic work activities including sitting, lifting, standing, remembering, walking, etc.

3) Does Your Impairment Meet or Medically Equal the Listing?

 The “listings” – this is a list of impairments that the SSA considers severe enough to prevent a person from completing substantial gainful activity, regardless of age, education, or work experience.

4) Can You Do the Work You Did Before?

Do your medical impairments prevent you from performing any of you past work (in the last 15 years). If yes, the Administration goes on to step 5.

5) Can You Do Any Other Type of Work?

The Administration will, based on factors including past work history, education, and physical capabilities, determine whether or not you’d be able to do other work. If it determines that you cannot, you will be considered disabled and will be eligible for benefits. If other work can be done you will be found to be physically and mentally capable of substantial gainful activity and will not be entitled to benefits.

What Happens If I Am Awarded Disability Benefits but My Conditions Improve Enough to Be Able to Return to Work?

If your conditions improve to the extent you are able to return to full-time work, and you return to work, you must notify the Administration. Once notified, the administration will terminate your benefits.

Can I Still Work Part-Time If I’ve Been Awarded Benefits?

You can work up to 9 consecutive months after the Administration determines that you are disabled before they will deem that you are now capable of performing substantial gainful activity on a continuous basis and will terminate your benefits. If you attempt to work but are then unable to perform the required duties due to your disabling conditions, you will continue to receive benefits.