SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY
Disability insurance coverage was added to the Social Security Act by Congress in 1956. It provides disability benefits to certain workers under age 65 who are unable to engage in any work activity for a continuous period of twelve months or more.
WHO IS COVERED
To receive benefits, you must first prove that you are “insured”. To be insured, you must have worked a sufficient number of years and paid sufficient social security taxes. Some individuals may receive benefits on another worker’s account (widows, disabled adult children). You can find out if you are insured for social security disability or retirement by contacting the Social Security Administration. If you are insured, then you must prove that you have a medical problem (physical, mental, or emotional) which has lasted or will last for at least twelve months and which prevents you from doing any job you have done in the past fifteen years, or any other job for which you are suited medically and vocationally.
You may apply for Social Security Disability at any time, but benefits will only be awarded for a maximum period of one year prior to the date of your application. No benefits are ever given for the first six months of disability.
The amount of social security disability benefits which you can receive is determined in part by your past earnings. Social Security has a record of those earnings and you can check to see that the record is correct. In addition, a disabled person is entitled to Medicare benefits after they have received social security disability benefits for two years.
Disabled workers often receive disability benefits under several plans and government programs. For example, many workers receive workers’ compensation benefits at the same time they receive Social Security Disability benefits. However, special rules may limit the total amount the disabled worker can receive.
If you win your Social Security Disability case, you may receive an initial award for a period of disability retroactive one year from the date of their application (but remember that no benefits are given for the first six months a person is disabled). If you are still disabled, benefits will continue to be paid on a monthly basis. If you are no longer disabled, you will only receive benefits for the period of disability.
To receive Social Security Disability benefits you must be totally disabled. If you are working and earning more than $900/month for a prolonged period of time, Social Security will determine that you are not disabled for that period. However, Social Security does allow you to try to work for short periods; these work attempts may not affect your case.
Receiving Social Security Disability benefits can affect your retirement benefits in a positive way. Retirement benefits are based on an average of your total lifetime earnings. When you are disabled you have no earnings. However, if you are found eligible for Social Security Disability benefits your zero earnings for the time you are disabled will not count and your retirement benefits may be higher.