How A Lawyer With Our Firm Can Help You Apply For Disability Benefits
An attorney from our firm can offer assistance as you prepare an application for Social Security disability benefits. We can help you determine whether you have enough work credits for SSDI or should apply for SSI benefits. The law does not require you to work with a lawyer on the application and evaluation process for disability benefits, but having someone guide you can make the process go smoother.
Every year, thousands of qualifying individuals are denied Social Security Disability benefits because of errors they made on their applications. Many people have to appeal a denial of benefits to get the assistance they need. Our team can help you avoid this costly mistake or represent you during your appeal if you have already received a denial.
Limitations Of The Social Security Debit Card
While you can use the Direct Express Social Security debit card for the majority of your purchases, there are some limitations. You can use your card for online purchases as long as the retailer accepts MasterCard debit as a payment method. To use your card for gas purchases, you must pay the clerk inside the gas station; you cannot pay at the pump. If you use your Direct Express card to rent a car, the car rental agency will place an authorization hold on up to $500 of your funds. The authorization hold will be released when you return the rental car, but the money might not get back to your account for up to two weeks. In addition, the car rental agency may request additional documentation because youre not using a credit card.
Depending on the merchant, you may experience a hold or block on your account when renting a car or reserving a hotel room. Companies place these holds in order to decrease their risk. Speak to the rental agent or clerk when paying, to find out when the block will be removed .
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Alternative Options To Help Take Care Of Your Loved One
If you are currently in this situation and you dont know what to do, consider hiring someone to help with your caretaking responsibilities. You could even look into long-term care insurance. Or, if you have limited resources, Medicaid may help you pay for a nursing home. You may even be able to get help from your community or church.
No matter what you choose, if you are someones primary caretaker, you dont necessarily have to do it all by yourself.
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Benefits For Your Spouse
Benefits are payable to your spouse:
- Age 62 or older, unless your spouse collects a higher Social Security benefit based on their earnings record. The benefit amount for your spouse is permanently reduced by a percentage, based on the number of months up to their full retirement age.
At any age if they are caring for your child under age 16 or who was disabled before age 22, and is entitled to benefits.
Dont Forget The Earnings Test
If you plan on working between age 62 and your FRA, then wait until your FRA to begin taking benefits. Why? Because the earnings test affects you if you continue to collect earned income as well as Social Security benefits before you reach your FRA. In such a case, your Social Security benefits will be reduced if your total earnings exceed the annual limit. If you have some months where your earnings are high enough that you’re no longer considered “retired,” your benefits may be re-calculated when you reach your FRAand it could take 13 to 14 years for you to get back the amount that was withheld.
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Amount Of Spousal Disability Benefits
If the disabled worker is still living, a spouse generally receives 50% of the disabled worker’s primary insurance amount , although if the disabled worker’s children are collecting benefits at the same time, the spouse’s benefit can be reduced. The total of the spouse’s benefit and the children’s benefit cannot be greater than the maximum family benefit, which is generally 150% of the disabled worker’s monthly SSDI benefit.
The amount a surviving spouse will receive depends on how old the spouse is and whether the spouse is taking care of the deceased worker’s children. The amount varies between 75% and 100% of the deceased worker’s monthly amount.
In addition, if a disabled worker dies while receiving Social Security benefits, the surviving spouse will receive a death benefit worth several hundred dollars if the surviving spouse was living in the same household.
Qualifying With Your Spouses Income
In some cases, a disabled spouse may receive up to 50% of calculated benefits based on the working spouse’s employment history at the age of 62 or older. However, spouses may receive benefits regardless of age if they’re disabled and caring for minors under 16 years old.
Keep in mind that it may take up to six months for a Social Security Disability Insurance application to process. After that, you may need to wait an additional five months for the mandatory “waiting period” before benefits start paying out. The Social Security Administration suggests individuals who become disabled apply for disability benefits immediately.
Each case is based individually according to rules and regulations of the Social Security Administration. Complete information, supporting medical documentation and details regarding your spouse’s work history are essential in making such decisions.
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Eligibility For Spousal Benefit
If you begin to receive SSDI benefits, your spouse may also be eligible for benefits on your earnings in the following situations.
Your spouse is 62 years or older. If your spouse is 62 years or older when you start receiving disability benefits, he or she can also get a monthly benefit based on your earnings record unless he or she can get a higher benefit amount on his or her own record. But if your spouse collects a spousal benefit before full retirement age, the early retirement penalty will permanently lower his or her benefit. This does not apply to those caring for a child under 16 who is eligible for a child’s benefit.
Your spouse is caring for your minor child. Your spouse can get benefits if he or she cares for your child who is under the age of 16. While a child’s dependent benefits continue until age 18, your spouse’s benefits will stop when your child turns 16, unless your spouse becomes eligible for retirement or widower benefits. Note that the early retirement penalty does not apply to those caring for a child under 16.
However, if your spouse works while collecting benefits based on caring for a child under 16, Social Security may take away some of the spousal benefit. For the year 2020, if your spouse earns over the limit of $18,960 , the spousal benefit will be reduced by $1 for every $2 earned over the limit. This can lower the spousal benefit to zero.
Who Qualifies For Social Security Spousal Benefits
If your spouse has filed for Social Security benefits, you can also collect benefits based on the spouse’s work record, if:
- You are at least 62 years old.
- Regardless of your age, if you care for a child who is entitled to receive benefits on your spouses record, and who is under age 16 or disabled.
When you apply for spousal benefits, you will also be applying for benefits based on your own work history. If you’re eligible for benefits based on your own earnings, and that benefit amount is higher than your spousal benefit, that’s what you’ll get. If it is lower, you’ll get the spousal benefit.
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How You Earn Work Credits
You earn one work credit for every three-month block that you work a job that pays into Social Security. You buy into Social Security through payroll taxes. For the year 2020, the SSA says that you must earn at least $1,410 per quarter to earn a single work credit, and $5,640 in a year to earn four work credits.
For example, a person who works 30 years at qualifying jobs could earn up to 120 work credits. Note that the number of credits you have beyond the requirement does not affect the amount of benefits you receive through this program.
How Spousal Benefits Are Calculated
Spousal benefits are based on how much the other spouse would receive if that person began collecting benefits at the full or “normal” retirement age.
The Social Security Administration has an online calculator that can show you what percentage of your spouse’s benefits you will be eligible for depending on your own age when you start receiving benefits.
The short answer to the calculation is this: You’re eligible for half of your spouse’s benefit amount as long as you wait until your full retirement age to apply. The earlier you file, the less you’ll get.
If You Haven’t Applied For Retirement Benefits Yet
Spouses who are eligible for both the survivor benefit and the retirement benefit based on their own work record, can maximize their total benefits by taking them in the most advantageous order. The Social Security Administration explains how this works:
If you are also eligible for retirement benefits , you have an additional option. You can apply for retirement or survivors benefits now and switch to the other benefit at a later date.
The right order for you will depend on the size of each benefit. If both payouts currently are about the same, it may be best to take the survivor benefit at age 60. It’s going to be reduced because you’re taking it early, but you can collect that benefit from age 60 to age 70 while your own retirement benefit continues to grow. Then you can collect your own benefit starting at age 70 when it maxes out.
Conversely, if your own benefit is small compared to the survivor benefit , you could take your own benefit at;age 62, which is the earliest age at which you’re eligible. Then, at age 66,;you could switch over to the survivor benefit. However, the survivor benefit would be reduced since it was taken early or before full retirement age.
Taxes On Social Security
Another factor that is overlooked by singles and married couples alike is the impact of taxes. Retirement income needs to be viewed on an after-tax basis. Up to 85% of the Social Security benefits you receive can be taxed, though never 100%. With that in mind, there is a clever tax arbitrage strategy that people can implement if they also have an IRA. With Social Security benefits having a maximum taxability of 85%, each after-tax dollar from Social Security is worth more than each dollar you withdraw from your IRA.
To take advantage of this arbitrage, individuals and couples should first begin taking IRA withdrawals before starting to take Social Security benefits. They would be essentially delaying the start of their Social Security to maximize its benefits and minimize the minimum distribution amounts that IRAs require in their early 70s. This strategy doesn’t work for those with large pensions, but for those with no pension or a small pension, it can help their retirement money work harder for them.
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Spousal Benefits For Widows And Widowers
A widow or widower can receive up to 100% of a spouse’s benefit amount. That’s if the survivor has reached full retirement age at the time of the application.
The payment is reduced to somewhere between 71% and 99% of the deceased’s entitlement if the widowed person is at least 60 but under full retirement age.
Disabled people can apply as early as age 50. The agency has a streamlined application process to avoid delays in the first payment.
You may be eligible for benefits even if your spouse died long before reaching retirement age. Every employee racks up annual Social Security “credits” for working. If your spouse earned credits for at least 10 years, a spousal benefit has been earned.
It’s important to note that it pays to hold off until you reach your “full” retirement age to maximize the amount you will receive.
Also, if you are receiving spousal benefits and your spouse dies, you need to notify Social Security. Your spousal benefit of 50% of your partner’s benefit will convert to a survivor benefit of 100%.
And do it promptly. It’s not usually retroactive.
Beware The Blackout Period
As noted;earlier, a widow or widower generally doesn’t qualify for their own benefits;until age 60. However, that person can collect payouts as the caregiver for the deceased’s children until they turn 16.
The kids themselves qualify for benefits until they turn 18 . But between the child’s 18th birthday and the spouse’s 60th birthday , no one in the family is eligible to collect. That’s what’s known as a blackout period.
Consider, for example; a woman is left widowed at the age of 30 with a two-year-old son. As her son’s caregiver, she is entitled to collect Social Security benefits for 14 years, until his 16thbirthday. After that, her son continues to receive his survivor benefits for two more years, until he’s 18. His mom will be 48 at that point, leaving the family ineligible for any payments until her widow’s benefits become available when she’s 60. In this case, the Social Security blackout period lasts 12 years.
One possible solution is for families to make sure they have adequate life insurance to support a surviving spouse during any blackout period. Take, for instance, a couple, both;31 years old, who recently had a child. If either parent dies, the surviving spouse is eligible to collect benefits until they are 47 years old . If they both buy 30-year term life insurance policies and keep up with the premiums, they’ll be assured of coverage until age 61one year after Social Security eligibility is reinstatedin case one of them dies.
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Do My Disability Benefits Remain Intact If I Get Married
By Bethany K. Laurence, Attorney
Some types of Social Security Disability are for unmarried family members of the disabled person , while other types are for married or unmarried people, but have income limits. In that case, a new husband or wife’s income can be counted toward these limits and could make a disabled person financially ineligible for benefits. Let’s take a closer look at both of these situations.
The File And Suspend Strategy
Prior to 2016, workers could file for benefits , then suspend their own benefits in order to maximize their credits for deferred filing. This so-called file and suspend strategy meant that a lower-income partner could take advantage of spousal benefits while the primary earner accrued delayed retirement credits, thereby increasing their benefit amount.
However, this “have your cake and eat it, too” loophole was closed with the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which took effect in April 2016.
While it is still possible to file for benefits and then suspend payments temporarily, any other benefits that would normally be available on your account are no longer payable during such suspensions.
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How Disability Benefits Differ
Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are for people who are eligible for Social Security retirement benefits, but became disabled before they reached full retirement age. When a beneficiary begins to receive disability benefits, certain members of their family may also qualify for benefits, including:
Can A Husband And Wife Both Receive Social Security Disability Benefits
It is possible for both spouses to receive Social Security Disability at the same time as long as the specific requirements are met by both husband and wife. Each must have a disability that causes you to be unable to work for at least a year or will lead to death.
The following evidence must be provided according to the Social Security Administration’s impairment listings:
- Medical treatments
- Medical Imaging Scans
- Lab test results
If you or your loved one has questions regarding social security disability benefits, contact our experienced attorneys for dedicated representation.
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Get Ssa Benefits While Living Overseas
U.S. citizens can travel to or live in most, but not all, foreign countries and still receive their Social Security benefits. You can find out if you can receive benefits overseas by using the Social Security Administrations payment verification tool. Once you access the tool, pick the country you’re visiting or living in from the drop-down menu options.
Can I Still Work If My Spouse Is On Ssdi
To get Social Security Disability Income you have to be disabled and have worked long enough to earn the required number of work credits. The Social Security Administration makes the decision as to whether you qualify for benefits, and the items reviewed include your work history and the medical evidence provided regarding your condition. Not only do you have to have a qualifying disability, but you must also show how your disability prevents you from working. If you do not meet the criteria, your claim will be denied.
The analysis is specific to the person applying, and other sources of income are not taken into account when you apply for SSDI. That means, if your spouse is the one who has become disabled and needs benefits, your income will not come into play when the SSA considers your spouses application. You are permitted to work and continue earning an income if you have a disabled spouse, and in many instances, it is necessary for the non-disabled spouse to hold down a job because benefits can take a while to begin flowing. You may also need a job if your spouse is disabled because the benefit payment may not cover your familys expenses. But this is where things can become tricky because if the disability benefit is insufficient to cover your costs there are other programs available for supplement income, but your salary would become an issue for those programs.
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