Have you stopped working because of a physical or mental health problem? Has the problem lasted for a year or more, or will it?
If you said “yes” to either question, Social Security Disability may be able to pay you and give you medical insurance.
So what is Social Security Disability? It’s a federal government program that provides assistance to people with disabilities. The process to apply can be long and confusing. Chain | Cohn | Stiles has developed a “fast facts” sheet to figure out if you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. Slide through the pictures in this blog to read them and learn more.
The Bakersfield Social Security lawyers at CCS have also compiled a list of frequently asked questions and answers related to Social Security Disability.
Q: Why should I apply for benefits?
A: Entitlement to Social Security Disability allows you to receive monthly disability benefit checks for you and, in some cases, your family. In most cases, you will also receive a large lump sum payment for back benefits owed to you.
You can become eligible for Medicare after two years of entitlement to disability benefits.
Even if you are getting Workers’ Compensation and/or long-term disability (LTD) benefits, your total present income may increase and you may be entitled to hundreds or thousands of dollars in back benefits.
Even though many group LTD policies offset other disability benefits, most policies do not offset Social Security’s annual cost of living increases. In addition, some policies only offset your individual benefits and not your family’s, and many policies have a minimum benefit payment that is not offset.
Your Social Security payments may be tax free depending on your other income, whereas LTD benefits are often taxable.
Q: Who is eligible for Social Security Benefits?
A: If you have worked long enough at a job where you pay Social Security taxes and have become disabled, you are probably eligible for disability benefits.
Even if you’ve never worked or haven’t earned very much money at your jobs, you may be eligible to get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, that are for low-income people with disabilities.
Q: What does “Disabled” mean?
A “Disability” can be physical, emotional, mental, or a combination. The condition has to be serious enough to keep you from working and earning enough money for at least one year.
Q: I can’t do the job I used to do – am I disabled?
A: The test isn’t whether you can go back to a job you’ve lost. The test is whether you are physically and emotionally capable of doing a job that is generally available in the everyday work place.
Q: I am too old and no one will hire me – can I get disability?
A: Not necessarily. The test isn’t whether you’ve been able to find a job recently or the chance that someone would hire you. There are some special rules called the Medical-vocational Guidelines that can help older people qualify for disability more easily. A knowledgeable attorney can help you make sense of those rules.
Q: I have a disabling condition but I’m not seeing a doctor – can I get disability?
A: You must have a doctor say that you are disabled “by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory findings.” Unfortunately, many genuinely disabled people can’t get benefits because they aren’t getting the right kind of medical treatment.
Q: I have a disabling condition and my doctor says I should be getting disability – why did I get denied benefits?
A: Unfortunately, many genuinely disabling conditions are difficult to diagnose or prove. In cases like that, it is up to your legal representative to present your doctor’s reports properly, and to convince the government that you deserve your benefits.
For several more Frequently Asked Questions and answers, go HERE, or visit our specialized web site dedicated to Social Security Disability.
And if you have any questions related to Social Security Disability, please call CCS. The attorneys at CCS — including Erica Scott and James Yoro — offer a free in-person consultation to discuss eligibility and there is no charge to speak to us on the phone.