Phillips & Ingrum

7 Important Things to Know About Social Security Disability Benefits

By Grayson Cannon

Phillips-Ingrum-Headshots-15_final1. Social Security won’t pay anyone without an application. If you got denied and let your time to appeal lapse, you will need to re-apply. You must have an application pending for SSA to act on, and if denied, follow the timelines in your written denial notice regarding appeal.
2. The basic difference between Social Security Disability and SSI Disability is financial eligibility. Social Security Disability is payable to people who have paid into the system through their taxes and earned Social Security credits. Your non-work income and assets don’t affect your right to benefits. SSI is a needs-based welfare program and may be paid to people, including children, who have never worked but meet the financial need criteria. The medical criteria for disability is pretty much the same for both.
3. There are important deadlines that may affect your ability to get benefits. If you are eligible for Social Security Disability based on work credits, your coverage for disability will not last more than 5 years after you last worked and paid in. If you have fewer credits it may be even less than 5 years. You must prove your disability began within that covered period or you can’t get benefits. So don’t quit work and wait ten years to apply!
4. Social Security can’t pay benefits for more than 12 months prior to the date of your application, no matter how long you have been disabled. As you are probably starting to see, waiting costs you money. If you have become pretty sure you won’t be returning to work, apply for your benefits now.
5. I’m getting private disability benefits that are more than my Social Security. Why should I bother applying for Social Security or pursuing an appeal if SSA has denied my application? Because of a little something in the regs called the “DIB Freeze.” Because of the way SSA calculates your eventual retirement benefits, when you stop working and stop earning Social Security credits, your retirement benefits start to lessen. But if you are getting disability, your earnings record is “frozen” and you will transition smoothly to retirement without a loss in your benefit rate. Since most private disability plans stop paying you at your full retirement age, even though they may reduce what they pay by the Social Security disability benefits you are getting right now, when your private plan stops paying at retirement you will have preserved a larger amount of Social Security retirement for yourself.
6. Medicare eligibility does not begin until you have been receiving disability benefits for at least 24 consecutive months in most cases. There are a handful of exceptions, but you will generally have a waiting period before you receive any insurance coverage with your Social Security Disability benefits. Plan ahead if possible!
7. There is no cost to you for losing a disability claim. So if you think you might be eligible, apply!