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Social Security Disability Benefits Law

Legal Definition

The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines a disability as the inability to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) due to an impairment or combination of impairments. The condition(s) must last or be expected to last for at least 12 months. Part-time work may or may not constitute substantial gainful activity, which would possibly disqualify a person from eligibility. Monthly earnings below an amount set by the Social Security Administration will not disqualify a claim and are not considered SGA.

To be considered disabled, a person must ordinarily establish that he or she cannot perform his past work and also must establish an inability to perform other types of employment. The Social Security rules are more lenient toward older workers with less education and limited job skills. Special rules apply in the case of a child’s claim for Social Security Income (SSI).

Social Security Disability Programs

The Social Security system provides benefits for the disabled under two separate but related programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (DIB) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

1. Social Security Disability benefits (also called Disability Insurance Benefits or DIB) are for workers covered by the Social Security laws who have contributed adequate quarters of coverage and have worked recently enough to be “insured” for disability benefits.

2. Social Security Disability benefits may also be available for disabled widows or widowers, depending on their age and the time of the spouse’s death. A disabled adult child may also be eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits on the Social Security account of his or her parent.

3. The amount of the Social Security Disability benefits depends upon the person’s contributions to the Social Security program. DIB benefits can approach $2,500 per month or can be less than $200 per month, depending upon the worker’s earnings.

4. If a person is eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, her dependent children may also be eligible for additional benefits. In some situations, the spouse may receive additional benefits.

5. Medicare is available for persons eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. There is a 24 month waiting period from the first month of benefit eligibility. Current exceptions to the waiting period apply in cases of ALS and end-stage kidney disease where dialysis is necessary.A small premium is deducted from the beneficiary’s Social Security check.

6. SSI benefits may be available for disabled persons who are financially needy. The maximum SSI benefit in 2011 is $698 per month. Benefits may be reduced where there are other sources of income to the disabled person. Additionally, a Claimant must be resource eligible. This usually means that the applicant has less than $2,000.00 ($3,000.00 if married) in resources (e.g., savings, cash, assets which can be turned into cash, etc.). An exemption is made for the person’s residence and, to an extent, an automobile.

7. Most SSI recipients are eligible for Medicaid through their home State.

Let our SSI attorneys help you get the Social Security disability benefits you deserve. Please contact us today to evaluate your disability case

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