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Articles Posted in SSD Benefits

Social Security Disability (SSDI) is a federal program that provides monthly benefits to individuals who cannot work due to a qualifying disability. Although certain mental illnesses are listed as qualifying disabilities, proving that you have a mental illness – and that your condition prevents you from working – is generally harder for mental illnesses than for physical. For starters, symptoms are not as easy to evaluate. And physical disabilities, such as immobility, are visible, whereas most mental illnesses are not.

But the biggest problem you encounter may be related to the biases of the Social Security examiners assigned to your case. Some examiners may think that a particular disorder – anxiety, for example – is just an excuse for someone who doesn’t want to work. This may be due to a past experience with someone who abused the system. Whatever the reason, examiner biases can present a real problem when it comes to SSDI applications. An experienced MA SSDI attorney can help you overcome this potential problem and get the benefits you deserve.

The Social Security “Blue Book”

Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits are paid to individuals who are unable to work due to an eligible disability. For some families, this monthly benefit helps them avoid extreme poverty. But what if the person receiving these benefits dies, leaving behind a spouse who relied on that source of income to survive? Fortunately, Social Security Disability has a survivor benefit, known as a Widow/Widower Benefit, to address this problem. The information below details who is eligible for survivor benefits and how they are paid out.

Do I Qualify?

If a person passes away while receiving SSDI or regular Social Security benefits, the surviving spouse may be eligible to receive a percentage of the balance of benefits. However, he or she must be age 60 or older, or at least 50 if disabled. In addition, the surviving spouse must be unable to work due to a long-term physical or mental impairment. The surviving spouse is also entitled to a one-time benefit payment of $255 following the spouse’s death. Below are the categories that may qualify you for SSDI survivor benefits, along with information on how to calculate the payments you are eligible to receive.

  • A child in your care, who is under the age of 16 years, receives SSDI survivor benefits from your deceased spouse. In this scenario, you will receive 75 percent of the SSDI benefit your spouse was receiving.
  • If you have a disability and are at least 50 years old, you will receive 71.5 percent of the SSDI benefit.
  • If you are not full retirement age but are at least 60 years of age, you will receive between 71.5 percent and 99 percent of the SSDI benefit.
  • If you are full retirement age, you will receive 100 percent of the SSDI benefit.

The application process for Widow/Widower benefits can be complex and confusing. A MA Social Security Disability attorney can help you determine if you are eligible for a transfer of payments following the death of your spouse. If you are eligible, your attorney can help you navigate the process to ensure that you receive full benefits in a timely manner.

Special Scenarios

As with most things in life, there are exceptions to the rules above. For example, if you remarry before age 60, you are not entitled to survivor benefits. However, if you remarry after the age of 60 (or 50 if disabled), your benefits will not be affected. And remember above when we discussed survivor benefits if you have a child under the age of 16? Well, those benefits usually end on the child’s 16th birthday…unless he or she is also disabled. Further, sometimes SSDI survivor benefits can actually work against you. In certain situations, your own retirement benefits may be greater than survivor benefits based on your deceased spouse’s benefits. A Boston SSDI lawyer can help if you are unsure of the benefits available to you following the death of a spouse.

What Documentation Do I Need?

The documentation below is required to obtain survivor’s benefits:

  • Death certificate
  • Your Social Security number
  • Your deceased spouse’s Social Security number.
  • Your deceased spouse’s birth certificate
  • Your marriage certificate
  • Recent tax forms

When the surviving spouse reaches age 62, SSDI payments may begin to change. This is no different from the change that would have occurred between the ages of 62 and 70 for the original SSDI beneficiary. Continue reading

If a long-term disability is preventing you from gainful employment, you may qualify for one of two government programs – Social Security Disability or supplemental security income (SSI). The programs have many similarities, but requirements to qualify for each program are quite different. Read on for more information about these federal disability programs and what benefits you may receive if you are eligible.

What Conditions are Covered?

Social Security Disability and SSI use the same listing manual of qualifying conditions to determine eligibility. If a medical complication is preventing you from working, the list below will help you determine if your condition qualifies you for benefits under either of these programs. According to the 2017 listing manual, covered conditions include:

  • Musculoskeletal conditions, including back and spine injuries
  • Cardiovascular problems, including heart disease
  • Speech or sensory conditions, such as hearing or vision loss
  • Respiratory problems, such as emphysema and COPD
  • Neurological conditions, including cerebral palsy and epilepsy
  • Mental disorders, including depression
  • Disorders of the immune system, such as HIV and lupus
  • Skin conditions, including dermatitis
  • Problems with the digestive tract, such as irritable bowel syndrome
  • Kidney problems
  • Cancer
  • Hematological conditions
  • Other disorders

If you are unable to work due to any of the above conditions, you will likely qualify for one of these programs. However, if you have a condition that is not listed above, you may still be eligible for benefits. If, for example, Social Security considers your condition to be a medical equivalent of one of its listed conditions, you can qualify by “equaling a disability listing.” And even if you don’t equal the listing manual’s criteria, you may still be approved if your condition limits your ability so severely that you are unable to work.

Income Limits

You may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if you have a disability that prevents you from working, and you earned a certain amount prior to becoming disabled. In 2017, the qualifying amount is  over $1,170 per month. If you are self employed, Social Security will use different criteria to gauge eligibility. A MA disability insurance lawyer can help you determine if you qualify.

SSI is available to individuals who have never been able to work, or have worked very little, due to their disability. Eligibility for this program is based on income – to qualify, your monthly income must not have exceed $735 (or $1,103 for couples). However, keep in mind that only some of your income will be considered when determining if you qualify.

What Benefits Are Available to Me if I Qualify?

Social Security Disability and SSI benefits both include monthly cash payments. Most individuals who qualify for Social Security Disability benefits receive between $700 and $1,700 monthly in cash payments. The amount for SSI is generally less. You may also receive backpay for both programs, based on the established date of onset of your condition. Although Social Security Disability does not provide immediate health insurance, after 24 months, you may be eligible for Medicare coverage. In certain cases, you may qualify for Medicare immediately. A Boston Social Security Disability attorney can help you determine if you qualify for health insurance coverage. SSI, on the other hand, usually includes immediate health insurance coverage under Medicaid. Both disability and SSI recipients are also usually eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as “food stamps.” Continue reading

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