Social Security Disability
You probably know someone who is eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance. A neighbor. A friend. A family member. Someone at Church or work.
Maybe even you.
Social Security Disability Law; important things you need to know. The System Is Confusing…and Discouraging…But Don’t Give up.
Understanding the Disability System is very important when you are applying for these benefits.
When people think about Social Security, they think about the money they receive when they retire. The golden age of 65 is meaningful to most because it signals the start of a new relationship with the U.S. government.
However, what most people don’t think about is receiving Social Security earlier due to disability.
This article focuses on the disability system put in place by our government and how to access it if it becomes necessary.
There are two different programs within the Social Security system:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) – Title 2
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – Title 16
SSDI – Title 2 – (“disability”) is a program that provides income to injured or ill individuals who have paid into the system over the years and who have been disabled for over 12 months or expect to be disabled for at least that long. One must have built up “credits” over the years and have worked five out of the last ten years while paying into the Social Security system.
SSI – Title 16 is in essence the same type of program, but it is geared for those who have not paid into the system over the years sufficiently to have built up credits and have assets below poverty level. The asset levels change, but suffice it to say that if you have income from a spouse or other individuals in your household, or you have assets above a few thousand dollars (excluding your home or primary automobile), you will be denied SSI. Few people qualify for SSI because of the rigid standards.
The Process; Your Application
Your first introduction to Social Security will be the application stage. It is a lengthy application.Don’t get intimidated!
These folks simply want to get the information completed and forward it along for review. Most claimants get rejected at this stage. That’s why, at this time, you should hire an attorney to help process your claim.
The Process; Reconsideration Level
Once you have been rejected, you must file an appeal. Many documents have to be gathered and filed.
However, even with the help of an attorney, most applicants will potentially fail at this point. It is hard to explain why this happens except that the system counts on people failing to follow through with an appeal. Don’t Give Up!
The Process; Request for hearing
The third stage involves the request for a hearing before an administrative judge. This could take an additional 8-10 months. As hard as it is to literally survive during this waiting period, the odds of prevailing ultimately go up dramatically when you appear before a judge with a competent attorney. A hearing is relatively informal but it is absolutely critical that the case is prepared properly with the medical evidence securely in place.
The Law is on your side.
A decision will be made in writing and sent to the parties shortly thereafter.
Be aware, there is a major difference between the SSDI – Title 2 program and the
SSI – Title 16 program.
Under SSDI – Title 2, benefits start from the date your disability started (but no more than 12 months prior to your application). For example, let’s say you became disabled on 1/1/2013. You applied 8/1/2014. The award would go back to 8/1/2013.
Under SSI – Title 16, SSI is paid according to the date of application. You cannot go back on SSI before the date of application.
There is also a five-month waiting period to start collecting the benefits. You would also become entitled to MEDICARE after two years of qualifying for disability.
The system is confusing and discouraging. But don’t give up. Get help and keep moving forward.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. HOW LONG DOES ELIGIBILITY FOR DISABILITY PAYMENTS LAST?
A. Disability payments will continue for as long as your condition continues to keep you from maintaining substantial gainful employment.
Q. CAN THE GOVERNMENT CUT OFF MY BENEFITS?
A. The government can review your case every few years.
Q. CAN I STILL WORK?
A. SSA has special rules called “work incentives” that enable you to keep your monthly entitlement and Medicare. There is a trial work period which lasts up to nine months (not necessarily in a row) in which you can earn up to $750.00. After the trial work period ends, your benefits will stop for any months your earnings are over a certain limit. The income limit for the SSI program is based on something called the federal benefit rate (FBR). The federal benefit rate represents both the SSI income limit and the maximum federal monthly SSI payment. In 2016, the FBR is $733 per month for individuals and $1,100 for couples. (The FBR increases annually if there is a Social Security cost-of-living adjustment.)
Q. WHAT IF I EARN MORE, DO I AUTOMATICALLY LOSE MY BENEFITS?
A. Not necessarily. There is a “Ticket to Work” program in which the government encourages people on disability to attempt to return to work. There are restrictions to this program.
Q. WHAT IF THE GOVERNMENT MADE A MISTAKE IN CALCULATING MY BENEFITS?
A. You could owe that money back even if the mistake is the government’s fault.
If you or someone you know needs help in applying for SSDI, or if your claims have been denied, contact J. Anthony Bradley, Attorney at the Bradley Law Firm, PLLC for guidance through the application or appeal process.
Call today for more information. (901) 682-2030 or (877) 439-2532.
The Bradley Law Firm, PLLC
3107 E. Corporate Edge Drive
Germantown, TN 38138