Disability can be stressful and frustrating, especially when it prevents you from doing your job, meeting your financial commitments, and looking after your family. If you have a medical condition that is disabling and is affecting your ability to work, you may be eligible for social security disability benefits. Your condition should meet the SSA’s (Social Security Administration) definition of disability and medical record review is an important requirement in the application process. The financial support provided by the SSA will help meet immediate requirements such as paying your medical and credit card bills, housing, food and other daily expenses. People applying for disability benefits may have many questions about the program and their eligibility among other doubts. Here is a look at some of the major questions related to social security disability benefits.
- Who qualifies for social security disability benefits?
Social security has a strict definition of disability. A person is considered disabled under Social Security rules if:
- He/she cannot do work that they did before
- The SSA decides that the person cannot adjust to other work because of his/her medical condition(s)
- The person’s disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.
- How do you start the social security disability application process?
- Applicants can apply online through the SSA’s website. The application can be saved to be completed at a later date if the applicant partially completes the form.
- Those who want to apply in person can do so at their closest SSA office. For this, call the SSA at TTY 1-800-325-0788 and make an appointment.
- It is best to start the application process as early as possible because the SSA could take anywhere from 3 – 5 months to respond to the application.
- How much will you receive if you become disabled?
Workers who become disabled and are unable to work may qualify for disability payments from the SSA. Typically, the benefits granted may compensate partially for the applicant’s inability to earn what he or she earlier did at their job.
- The applicant will have to provide medical records about his/her condition.
- Disability benefits do not start at least 6 months after the disability begins, and there may be several months’ wait time to process applications.
- The amount a disabled person may qualify for in the coming year can be obtained from his/her Social Security statement.
- A person near retirement age may have to stop working due to some major health issues, may apply for disability benefits and start receiving it. Will this affect his/her future retirement benefits from Social Security?
It will not. A social security disability benefit pays the same rate as a full retirement age benefit check. The amount of money the person is getting at age 60 for example, equals what he/she would have received if they had retired at age 66 with full retirement benefits. When they reach age 66, they will be automatically switched from SSA’s disability rolls to the retirement side. Their monthly check will not change because they are already being paid their full retirement age benefit.
- Can you receive workers’ compensation payments and social security disability payments at the same time?
The law says the combination of your workers’ comp payments from the state and your social security disability benefits from the federal government cannot exceed 80% of your pre-disability income. If it does, the social security disability benefits will be reduced. However, in some states the workers’ compensation payments are reduced. Details regarding this can be obtained from your social security office or workers’ compensation bureau.
- If you get unemployment benefits, will it cut your social security disability checks?
It would. You are granted disability benefits because of a disability that is preventing you from working. If you are already receiving unemployment benefits, it has been granted because you have convinced the state about your willingness and ability to work but that you just can’t find a job. The apparent discrepancy between your two statements is very likely to result in denial of one your benefits.
- Will the pension you receive affect your social security disability payments?
- In most cases, people eligible for pensions may not see any impact on their social security disability benefits. The important consideration is whether you had to pay social security taxes on the earnings that allowed you to qualify for the pension. For many government jobs and private businesses, the earnings are subject to tax cuts for social security and therefore any pension you receive will not affect your disability benefits.
- Certain state and local government agencies are not required to cut social security taxes from their workers’ pay. In such cases, the Windfall Elimination Provision may be applicable and thus reduce your social security disability benefits when you are receiving a pension. The amount of reduction depends on the number of years you have worked at jobs and did pay into social security as well as the year you became disabled. You can find the maximum possible reduction at this government website. This reduction is subject to the overarching rule that your benefits will not fall more than half the amount of your pension.
- Does having legal assistance for your social security disability claim improve your chances of winning?
Statistics show that legal representation could increase an applicant’s chances of winning their claim. This is because:
- An experienced lawyer knows what evidence the SSA disability system requires
- All aspects of the case and complex paper work are professionally handled.
- With a lawyer to represent you, the waiting period associated with government proceedings and clerical errors associated with government offices can be avoided.
- You don’t have to pay any fees to the lawyer if your disability claim is not won.
Any social security disability application involves medical record retrieval and detailed medical record review. This makes a complete medical record one of the most significant pieces of a successful disability application. When the application is made, applicants have to answer questions to determine their eligibility for the benefits. They will be asked to supply their medical records or sign a release so that the SSA can request them for the applicant. The entire process of retrieving medical records and filing the disability application can be made effortless with the support of an experienced social security disability attorney.