Using Social Securitys Special Language
I approach depression and anxiety cases by studying your medical record, then creating a checklist form that tracks most of your symptoms. These forms also include the specific functional limitations set forth in the judges handbook used by your Social Security Judge. Experienced representatives should know which vocational factors carry the most weight with Judges in a particular hearing office.
For example, a limitation that describes interference with concentration such that you would not be able to understand and carry out complex job instructions is not particularly limiting, since many jobs exist that only require you to understand and carry out simple job instructions.
On the other hand a limitation that says you would be unable to perform jobs requiring interaction with the public or that you would have difficulty interacting with co-workers or supervisors is extremely significant since there are very few jobs that would permit you to work alone and unsupervised.
Dont Forget About Spousal Social Security Payouts
The maximum Social Security payout only applies to individuals. If your spouse qualifies for their own Social Security benefit, you can add your two payouts together and jointly earn more than the maximum for a single person. But even non-working spouses qualify for a spousal benefit of up to half of the higher-earning spouses payout if their own benefit is less. For example, if you qualify for the maximum Social Security payout of $3,895 and your spouses benefit based on their own work record is just $1,200, theyll earn more claiming the 50% spousal benefit. If you pass away, that spousal benefit will convert into a survivors benefit equal to 100% of your own payout, or $3,895 .
Chances Of Your Disability Benefits Being Ceased
If your medical records dont show medical improvement, your entitlement to disability benefits will continue. Its difficult, in most cases, for Social Security to find that enough medical improvement has taken place so that the disability recipient is able to return to work. Only about 15% of disaiblity recipients have their benefits terminated after a CDR.
Some claimants who were approved for disability benefits through an administrative law judge hearing versus being approved at the initial claim or reconsideration appeal levels may have an easier time keeping their benefits. It can be harder for the SSA to determine that an individual has had medical improvement after an ALJ approval because ALJs have more flexibility in formulating their decisions than disability examiners. Even though a CDR claims examiner may not agree that a recipient was ever disabled, unless there is proof of medical improvement in the medical record, disability benefits cant be ceasedâexcept under certain exceptions. For more information, read our article on when you might fail a continuing disability review.
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What Are Ssd And Ssa
Social Security Disability is one of the programs of Social Security that aims to assist disabled workers who cant continue to earn an income due to the said disability.
Social Security Administration is the government agency that administers all processes and requests relating to any of the SS Programs from the tax contributions to application processes to benefits disbursement.
SSA has divided SSD into two different programs: the SSDI and the SSI.
- Social Security Disability Insurance is an earned benefit. Benefits vary on several factors such as the age of the person when the disability case is incurred and filed.
- Supplemental Security Income is not tied to a beneficiarys social security tax contributions or work history. However, the income from other sources must not exceed the set caps.
Social Security Disability benefits vary based on several factors.
For SSI disability, an individual can receive up to $783 monthly benefit, while a family or a couple can receive up to $1,175. Aside from citizens with disabling conditions, persons with low income and limited resources, as well as seniors over 65 years old, can be qualified for SSI.
Social Security Death Index
Social Security collects death information to administer their programs this death information is compiled into the Death Master File , Social Securitys electronic database. The DMF was created in 1980 and contains records of people with Social Security numbers that have been reported dead from 1962 onward. Two versions of the DMF are prepared. The first is the full file, containing all death records, including those received from the States. This file is shared only with certain Federal and State agencies. The second is the public file, known as the Social Security Death Index.
The Social Security Death Index contains death records extracted from the Social Security database, excluding data received from the States. The records in the index each have a set of information that includes a full name, birth year and date, death year and date, and Social Security number and place of issue.
The Social Security Death Index is a helpful tool in preventing identity fraud, verifying death, and doing genealogy work. It is used by leading government agencies, medical researchers, genealogists, biographers, and investigative firms. You can access some of these records through online sites such as FamilySearch.
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How Do You Qualify
To qualify for Social Security retirement benefits, you generally need to have worked for at least 10 years. The SSA assigns credits to your paid taxesfor 2021, you earn one credit for every $1,470 in earnings, with a maximum of four credits earned each year. Most people will need 40 credits before they can claim Social Security retirement benefits.
You can get an estimate of how much your monthly retirement payments will be by entering basic information into the SSA Retirement Estimator.
The Big Question: When Should I Apply For Retirement Benefits
The single biggest decision youll make when it comes to Social Security retirement benefits is when to apply.
Every persons situation is unique and so theres no single right answer. In general terms and based on life expectancies, Social Security retirement benefits are calculated to give you approximately the same total amount of benefits over your lifetime. If you decide to draw benefits earlier in your life, your average monthly amount will be less than if you delay and draw benefits later in life.
The amount you receive can vary widely. For example, if you were born in 1953 or 1954 and you were entitled to draw a $1,000 benefit at your full retirement age of 66, that amount would be $750 if you decided to draw benefits starting at age 62. But in that same scenario, if you delayed benefits until age 70, the amount would jump to $1,350.
There is no exact science when deciding when to apply, but here are some things to consider as you decide whats best for you.
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Avoid Social Security Tax Traps
Either 50% or 85% of your benefits can be subject to federal taxation. In 2020, income tax is imposed on 50% of your Social Security check if your combined income falls between $25,000 to $34,000 for single filers and $32,000 to $44,000 for joint filers.
For single filers with more than $34,000 in combined income and joint filers with more than $44,000, you can look forward to an income tax of 85% on your Social Security benefits. If youre looking to avoid this, try reducing your taxable income to reduce the amount of taxes. This can be achieved by looking at all of your adjusted gross income and evenly distributing your funds over the span of a few years, so there are no sudden increases or decreases.
Use Our Full Retirement Age Calculator For Social Security
One of the keys of deciding when to retire is determining when you will reach your full retirement age. Full retirement age, also known as normal retirement age, is the age you must reach to start receiving full retirement benefits from Social Security. This age varies depending on when you were born. Because people are generally healthier and living longer, this age has gradually been increasing. For people born before 1938, the full retirement age is 65. People born between 1938 and 1960 are on a scale that ranges up to age 67.
Social Security has developed a Full Retirement Age Calculator that will give you detailed information on when your full retirement age is and what percentage of benefits you can expect as a record holder or as the spouse of a record holder. All thats required is for you to enter the year you were born.
To use the Full Retirement Age calculator, go to
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Ssdi May Convert To Retirement Benefits At Age 65 66 Or 67
Only people born before 1937 receive full Social Security retirement benefits upon turning 65. The rest of us will have to wait a little longer, and that includes people who receive Social Security disability benefits.
People born in 1955 must wait until they are 66 years and 2 months old before they reach full retirement age and their conversion from Social Security disability to retirement benefits will take effect.
The rest of the breakdown of how old you must be to reach Social Securitys full retirement age according to your year of birth is as follows:
- Born in 1956 66 years, 4 months
- 1957 66 years, 6 months
- 1958 66 years, 8 months
- 1959 66 years, 10 months
- 1960 and later 67 years
Social Security Spousal Benefits
You may be able to get spouses retirement benefits even if you have never worked under Social Security. Your spouse must already be receiving retirement or disability benefits and you must be at least 62 years of age, and you can also qualify for Medicare if you are at least 65 years of age. You can receive spousal benefits no matter how old you are if you are caring for your spouses child who is also receiving benefits. To receive benefits, a child must be unmarried and either be under age 18 or be age 18-19 and a full-time student they can also receive benefits if they are 18 or over and disabled with a disability that started before the age of 22.
You can also receive spousal benefits even if you are divorced, if the marriage lasted ten years or longer. You must be unmarried, at least 62, your spouse must be entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits, and the amount of the benefit you receive based on your own work must be less than the benefit you would receive from your ex-spouses work. To apply for Social Security spousal benefits, you can use the online application you can call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or for the deaf and hard of hearing, 1-800-325-0778 or you can make an appointment and visit your local Social Security office. If you do not live in the U.S. or in a U.S. territory, you can contact the nearest Social Security office, U.S. Embassy, or consulate
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Your Path To Disability Income
If youre no longer able to work because of serious medical issues, the wait to see if youre approved for income can seem to stretch forever.
Its difficult enough dealing with your health problems. Now youre facing a financial emergency, too. You need disability benefits to steady your life as soon as possible. Knowing how long you may wait can help you plan and cope.
If youre filing for disability benefits for the first time, statistics from the Social Security Administration show the average wait nationally is 2 to 4 months from the time you apply until your receive a decision on your original application. At our law firm serving people in Charleston and around South Carolina, we typically see decisions within six months.
But that might be just the beginning. If youre denied benefits, you canand probably shouldappeal the decision, which takes longer.
At the Robertson Wendt Disability Finkel Law Firm LLC, get started by having us give you an idea of what your specific application will take.
Apply For Survivor Benefits
If your deceased spouse was eligible for a higher Social Security payment than you are, you may be eligible for that higher survivor benefit. You may qualify for the higher benefit even if your spouse died before applying for benefits.
If you begin to collect Social Security benefits before you reach normal retirement age, not only will you receive a reduced benefit, but after your death, your surviving spouse will, too.
Applying For Both Ssdi And Ssi
Readers who applied for both SSDI and SSI waited somewhat longer, on average, to receive decisions than those who applied under one program . This makes sense, because these concurrent applications are more complex and therefore probably take longer to review they may also require more bureaucratic coordination between different offices.
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Will I Receive A Notice From The Social Security Administration Explaining My Benefits
Yes. That notice is usually called a Notice of Award. This notice will show the date of entitlement and the amounts of benefits for all months of back benefits. It will show the total amount of benefits to be paid to you. It will show the amount of benefits withheld for direct payment of attorneys fees. It may also give you information about your Medicare eligibility and monthly Medicare premium. It may also give you some information about when to expect a continuing disability review.
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Qualifying Outside Of The Depression Listing
Meeting the requirements of the depression listing, above, isnât the only way to receive an approval for disability. If Social Security finds that your depression isnât severe enough to meet the listing above, it will determine if you can be approved by being granted a âmedical-vocational allowance.â Social Security will consider how your depression symptoms affect your ability to do any type of unskilled work, by looking at your ability to:
- carry out simple instructions
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Social Security Disability Benefits
The definition of disabled held by the SSA is quite strict. You only qualify for Social Security disability benefits if you are severely disabled with a condition that entirely prevents your workingand is expected to last a year or longer or result in your death.
You also must have earned enough credits to receive payments. If you are at least age 62, you will need to have earned the full 40 credits to qualify for disability payments. Younger applicants require fewer credits, down to a minimum of six credits for those younger than 24. You also need to have been working when the disability began. Your spouse and children may qualify for benefits as well, potentially receiving up to half of the amount to which you are entitled each month.
If approved, then your disability benefits will begin six months after the date when your disability began. Payments are based on your lifetime earnings.
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You Must Receive Routine Doctor
One way the SSA determines your eligibility for monthly disability benefits hinges on your credibility as an applicant. If you havent sought treatment for your condition or discussed symptoms with your doctor, it looks bad to the SSA. If you arent treated, the SSA automatically assumes your condition isnt limiting you as much as you say it is. The more documented evidence from your doctor showing regular treatment appointments and progress notes, the higher your chances for approval. Among all disability secrets, this ones likely to result in your technical denial if you cant or wont follow through. In other words, no physician actively treating your disability = no claim approval for benefits. If you cannot afford to see a doctor, make an in-person appointment at the SSA office for a referral.
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Try This Life Expectancy Calculator For Social Security
Retirement benefit calculations are based on extensive actuarial studies and data. As a service to the public, the Social Security Administration has developed a simple Life Expectancy Calculator that allows you to plug in your gender and date of birth to get a rough estimate of how long you may live.
Knowing this information may help you in deciding when the right time is to apply for retirement benefits.
To use the Calculator, go to
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How Long It Takes To Get Social Security
It generally takes the Social Security Administration about six weeks to process your application and start your benefits.
However, this time period can vary for a couple of reasons.
Another reason may be that the SSA needs additional or updated information from you.
Finally, there is also a large number of applications being sent to the SSA on a daily basis, so you may encounter a longer-than-usual processing time.
Or Go All The Way And Work Until 70
The longer you hold off receiving your Social Security benefits, up to age 70, the bigger your check. So each month after youve reached your FRA, your payout increases by roughly 0.7% percent , which amounts to 8% per year. If you wait till age 70 then, your payments will be 32% bigger than if you had started taking benefits at 66. Once you turn 70 though, there is no added benefit in postponing payments.
Of course, working until 70 isnt for everyone, and theres no penalty in claiming your benefits when you reach your FRA. You will receive 100% of your benefit. Its also not a sure thing that waiting until 70 maximizes your lifetime benefit. After all, should you pass away the following year, waiting that long will mean you received far less total benefits than if youd claimed them as soon as you were eligible to. So consider your life expectancy as you make this decision.
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