Friday, June 5th, 2009

The actual benefits can be quite broad, but will depend on your age and earnings. Additional benefits may also be available to the wage earner’s spouse if the spouse is not employed and is caring for a child under 16 years of age. If the child is mentally or physically disabled, the parent’s benefits may extend to 18 years of age or sometimes older. The maximum family benefit is adjusted each year to compensate for cost of living increases. Additionally, after two years of receiving Social Security benefits, you would be entitled to Medicare which (for a small monthly co-payment) provides both medical and hospital benefits.

What can I do if Social Security denies my claim?

There are very short time limits in which to file an appeal. Generally, all requests for review must be made within 60 days of the date the decision is received. For the best chance of winning an appeal, be sure you are represented by an attorney who is familiar with the process. Don’t delay, consult an attorney as soon as you receive an unfavorable decision.

I have been disabled for a long time and never applied. Now I need the money. Have I lost my benefits?

No. You can never lose your rights under Social Security. However, you will have to show substantial, detailed records and medical evidence to prove that you have been disabled for a long time. Basically, your benefits will begin from one year prior to the date when you finally got around to filing. In cases like this, which require a large amount of documentation, you will need a lawyer’s help to get through the filing process.

What if I have never worked, but I have met the disability requirement?

You may be qualified to receive Supplemental Security Income which is a program based on a claimant’s disability and financial need.

How long will I receive Social Security Disability?

Benefits will last the duration of your disability, even if you remain disabled for the rest of your life.

What if I return to work?

Social Security allows you a nine-month trial work period. The nine months do not have to be consecutive. For example, you may work a two-month period, stop, and resume work three months later. Once you have worked a total of nine months, Social Security will pay you an additional two months and then terminate your benefits. If you become disabled again, you may need to reapply, but will not have to wait to receive benefits.

Can I collect Social Security if I am already receiving Workers’ Compensation payments?

Yes, but the amount you receive from Social Security might be reduced, depending on what you earned before you were disabled. There is no rule that precludes you from collecting both benefits at the same time. If you receive a private pension, you may also collect full benefits.