FAQs Answers (Continued)

What do Disability and Retirement have to do with each other?

If you were born before 1938, your full retirement age is 65. Because of the 1983 change in law, the full retirement age will increase gradually to 67 for people born in 1960 or later. Some people retire before their full retirement age. You can retire as early as early as 62 and take benefits at a reduced rate. If you work after your retirement age, you can receive higher benefits because of additional earnings and credit for delayed retirement. If you are disabled prior to your full retirement age your retirement will not be reduced.

Disability- for example, if you become disabled before full retirement age, you can receive disability benefits after six months if you have:

** enough credits from earnings (depending on your age, you must have earned six to 20 of your credits in the three to 10 years before you became disabled); and

** a physical or mental impairment that’s expected to prevent you from doing "substantial" work for a year or more or result in death.

If you are filing for disability benefits, please let the Social Security Administration know if you are on active military duty or are a recently discharged veteran, So that the Social Security Administration can handle your claim more quickly. There is an offset for Non-Service Connected VA disability benefits against your SSDI but not for VA service connected Disability Benefits thus allowing entitled Veterans to collect both Social Security Disability and Service Connected VA Disability Benefits.

Family- If you are eligible for disability or retirement benefits, your current or divorces spouse, minor children, or adult children disabled before age 22 also may receive benefits. Each may qualify for up to 50 percent of you benefit amount.

Survivors- When you die, certain members of your family may be eligible for benefits:

** your spouse age 60 or older (50 or older if disabled, or any age if caring for your children younger than age 16); and

**Your children if unmarried and younger than age 18, still in school and younger than19 years old, or adult children disabled before age 22. If you are divorced, your ex-spouse could be eligible for a widow’s or widow’s or widower’s benefit on you record when you die.

Extra Help with Medicare- If you know someone who is on Medicare and has limited income and resources, extra help is available for prescription drug costs. The extra help can help pay the monthly premiums, annual deductibles and prescription co-payments. To learn more or to apply, visit www.socialsecurity.gov or call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

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Can I receive benefits and still work?

You can work and still get retirement or survivors' benefits. If you are younger than your full retirement age, there are limits on how much you can earn without affecting your benefit amount. When you apply for benefits, the Social Security Administration will tell you what the limits are and whether work would affect your monthly benefits. When you reach full retirement are, the earning limits no longer apply.

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Before I decide to retire, what should I be considering?

Carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of early retirement.  If you choose to receive benefits before you reach full retirement age, your monthly benefits will be permanently reduced, unless you are adjudicated as disabled. To help you decide the best time to retire, the Social Security Administration offers a free booklet, Social Security-Retirement Benefits ( Publication No. 05-10035), that provides specific information about retirement.  You can calculate future retirement benefits on the Social Security Administration website at www.socialsecurity.gov by using the Social Security Benefits Calculators.

Other helpful free publications include:
* Understanding The Benefits (No. 05-10024)
*Your Retirement Benefit: How it Is Figured (No. 05-10070)
*Windfall elimination Provision (No. 05-10045)
*Government Pension Offset (No. 05-10007)
*Identity Theft And Your Social Security Number (No. 05-10064)
The Social Security Administration also has other leaflets and fact sheets with information about specific topics such as military service, self-employment or foreign employment.  You can request Social Security publications at the Social Security Administration website, www.socialsecurity.gov, or by calling the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213.  The Social Security Administration website has a list of frequently asked questions that may answer questions you have.  The Social Security Administration easy-to-use online applications for benefits that can save you a telephone call or a trip to a field office can be found on line.  You may also qualify for government benefits outside of Social Security.  For more information on these benefits, visit www.govbenefits.gov.

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What to do if I need even more information?

If you need more information - Visit http://www.socialsecurity.gov/mystatement on the Internet, contact any Social Security office, call 1-800-772-1213 or write to Social Security Administration, Office of Earnings operation, P.O. Box 33026, Baltimore, MD 21290-3026. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call TTY 1-800-325-0778. If you have questions about your personal information, you must provide your complete Social Security number. If your address is incorrect on this Statement, ask the Internal Revenue Service to send you a Form 8822. The Social Security Administration won’t keep your address if you’re not receiving Social Security Benefits.
Para Solicitar una Declaracion en espanol, Llame al 1-800-772-1213

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How is entitlement for Disabled Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Divorced Spouse’s Benefits Made?

You must be at least 50 and you health problems must:

  • Keep you from doing any kind of substantial work (described below)
  • Last, or be expected to lat for at least 12 months in a row, or result in death
  • Have started before the end of a special period.

The special period starts with the latest of:

  • the month your spouse died, or
  • the month your Social Security benefits as a parent ended, or
  • the month your earlier period of widow(er)’s disability ended.

The special period ends at the close of the 84th month (7 Years) after the month it started.

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What is my "Alleged Date of Onset of Disability and why is it important to select the correct date?

The date alleged for an onset of disability "AOD" is the date from which entitlement to Social Security Disability Insurance benefit entitlement (less the 5 month elimination period for financial entitlement and payments), SSI (Immediate entitlement to payment of funds on AOD), Medicaid (Immediate entitlement on AOD) and Medicare (less the 2 year elimination period) entitlements run. The AOD should be the first day when a claimant was unable to engage in SGA, "Substantial Gainful Activity". This term of art when broken down essentially means, "Could a claimant work a 40 hour week without significant interruption from symptoms and/or need for treatment?" AND, no matter how sick the claimant was, and no matter how many work days the claimant missed, was the claimant still able to make gross earnings of $940 per month? If the answers to both are "No", then the claimant is unable to engage in SGA and hence, is disabled by the required definition AOD and SGA have different applications and erroneous interpretations by those unfamiliar with the application of the term. For example, In cancer cases, the patient is most often denied because the SSA will take a wait and see attitude. This is because people do get better and the applicant must be incapable of SGA for at least 12 months after their AOD.

Regarding the proper onset date of disability within the AOD, it is important to get the right onset date, as the wrong date holds up the SSD/SSI process until the proper date is decided by a judge. I have had cases, where, for example a bipolar adult will say the onset of disability began in 1977 when he was 8, but he worked until 2002 when he had a nervous breakdown from which he never recovered or returned to work. Such a case was won by seeing the error and filing a written formal motion to move the onset date to the last day of continuous work i.e., first day of psychiatric hospitalization. Unfortunately, we do not get these type of files until they are ready for hearing and people have suffered too long.

So getting the proper AOD is very important. It is why an attorney should be consulted immediately after a claim is denied, so that one does not necessarily have to wait for a hearing

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If I am struggling with a physical or mental diagnosis and problem and I am still working part-time, should I file for Social Security Disability or SSI?

If you are still working and earning gross wages of $940.00 per month or have not worked “on the books” for 5 of the last 10 years and gained sufficient "quarters" i.e. 20, you do not financially qualify for SSD or SSI no matter how sick you are., As of 2008, if you earn more than $740/mo or have property in excess of $2,000.00 you are not entitled to SSI. When you cannot make this amount due to your physical or mental conditions then file for Social Security Disability and contact us to set and appointment and look at your case.

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What is "Substantial Work" and why is it important?

Generally substantial work is physical or mental work you are paid to do. Work can be substantial even if it is part-time. To decide if your work is substantial, SSA considers the nature of the job duties, the skills and experience you need and to do the job, and how much you actually earn.

Usually, the SSA will find that work is substantial if your gross earnings average $830.00 per month after SSA deducts allowable amounts. This amount is higher for Social Security disability benefits due to blindness

Your work may be different than before your health problem began. It may not be as hard to do and your pay may be less. However, SSA may still find that your work is substantial under their rules.

If you are self-employed, we consider the kind and value of your work, including your part in the management of the business, as well as your income, to decide if your work

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Am I eligible for Medicare or Medicaid?

If you are accepted as disabled by the Social Security Administration (SSA) you will be eligible for Medicare. If you are disabled and under the age of 65, your medical bills are covered by the state Medicaid program for the first two years after you become disabled. During this time you may select coverage under an approved Medicaid HMO to reduce co-pays or out-of-pocket expenses. Your minor children and dependents may also be entitled to Medicaid coverage after you are determined disabled.

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Do I need appropriate medical care while my application is pending?

No one needs good medical care more than the disabled. Moreover, medical treatment records from your treating physicians provide the most important evidence of disability in a social security case. Obtaining medical reports and sending your doctor the proper forms and questionnaires concerning your care is imperative to the success of your case. The DiLorenzo Law Firm will work with you to ensure that happens giving you a much greater chance of securing benefits.

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