Make sure you know your rights for Social Security Benefits

Do you know that you have rights under Social Security?  Are you aware of what your rights are for Disability benefits?  We want to make sure that you know your rights for benefits under the law.  Each week we’ll take a look at one of your 12 Bill of Rights for Social Security & Disability.

1.  You have the right to file a disability claim with the Social Security Administration.  There are two main types of disability programs through the Social Security Administration: Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income.  There are other types of benefits you may be entitled to and we will focus on those in later posts.  It is a good idea to file for both types benefits because there are situations where you would be entitled to receive both benefits. 

Disability Insurance Benefits are those benefits you are entitled to because you have worked and paid into the system.  If you become disabled at a time when you are insured, you will receive these benefits.  In order to receive Disability Insurance Benefits, you must have enough credits.  Simply put, you must have worked for a long enough time and made enough money while you were working in order to qualify for these benefits.  Each year you can earn as many as four credits, also called Quarters of Coverage.  In 2010, you earn one credit for each $1,120 in earnings.  In addition to earning enough credits, you need to have made a certain number of credits in a specific period of time to qualify for Disability Insurance Benefits.  This amount of total credits varies based on the age of the individual at the time they became disabled but if you are over age 30 you will need at least 20 credits coming in the last 10 years.  If your disability started before age 30, Social Security adjusts the credits needed to qualify for Disability Insurance Benefits.  If you qualify for disability insurance benefits you will be paid based on your earnings while you were working.  In future posts, we will discuss how your monthly benefit rate is calculated.  After you have been found entitled to Disability Insurance Benefits for a period of 24 months, you become eligible to receive medical benefits under Medicare.  Eligibility for Disability Insurance Benefits also allows the individual access to a trial work period where they are still eligible to receive benefits.  Also, there are situations where you can work and still receive your full Disability Insurance Benefits.

Disabled individuals who do not have enough credits to qualify for Disability Insurance Benefits can still receive money under a separate program called Supplemental Security Income.  This is a needs based program but the disability requirements are identical to those of Disability Insurance Benefits.  The 2010 monthly payment for Supplemental Security Income is $674.  This amount will be reduced by any income that you receive.  Social Security does not count the first $20 of most income and does not count the first $65 of income you receive from working.  After the first $65, your monthly benefits will be reduced by 50% of the money you make over $65.  Money you receive in food stamps does not reduce your Supplemental Security Income.  In addition to the reductions in your benefits due to income, your total resources cannot exceed $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple.  Social Security defines a resource as money as well as something that you own that you can turn into cash.  In calculating your resources, Social Security looks at your cash, bank accounts, stocks, bonds and possibly your vehicle.  There are several items, including your house, that do not count as a resource.  Likewise, they do not count one vehicle as a resource provided that vehicle is used for transportation.  If your resources are over the set amount then Social Security will suspend payment of your Supplemental Security Income until you can show that the money was spent down.  If the money is not spent down within one year, you will have to re-apply for benefits. 

Our attorneys are able to answer any questions you may have about your Social Security claim for benefits.  If you would like to sit down for a free consultation, please call 419-843-2001 or toll free: 1-567-455-5470.