Social Security disability benefits the USA way


Dave xxxx

From Q&A on US Social Security, not sure if its a decent system or not, suppose its down to what they work out
you are entitled to, like the way they try to avoid answering Q3 with a stright answer.

Q. Seven million Americans draw Social Security disability benefits. How
much is a disability benefit?

A. Disability benefits are the equivalent of a worker's unreduced retirement
benefit. The amount varies according to how much the worker earned before
becoming disabled, but for an average earner, the monthly benefit is about
40 percent of his or her salary. A worker who pays the maximum Social
Security tax each year can receive as much as $1825 per month in a
disability check. There can be an additional benefit--usually equal to half
of the worker's amount--for the worker's minor child or disabled adult

Q. About 25 percent of today's 20-year-olds will become disabled sometime
before attaining full-retirement age and will qualify for Social Security
and/or Supplemental Security Income. What's the difference between Social
Security Disability and SSI?

A. The Social Security Administration runs both of those programs for
disabled people, but there is a difference. SSI pays monthly checks--a
maximum of $564 per month--to disabled people who have little income and few
assets. On the other hand, Social Security Disability pays benefits to rich,
and poor, and everyone in between.

Q. Is it true disabled people must wait five months to get their first
disability checks?

A. It's true that no Social Security benefits are payable for the first five
months a worker is disabled. This waiting period is not due to
administrative delay: The statute requires people to wait five full months
for their benefits.
SSI has no waiting period. Disabled workers with no means to support
themselves often draw SSI while waiting for their Social Security to begin.

Q. How much work is required to qualify for a Social Security disability

A. To qualify for benefits, disabled workers usually must earn at least 20
work credits in the 40 calendar quarters before they become disabled. That's
about five years of work in a ten year period.

Younger disabled workers need fewer credits, because they have a shorter
opportunity to work. Workers who become disabled between 24 and 30 must have
earned credits in at least half of the quarters between age 21 and the onset
of their disabilities. Workers younger than 24 need at least six work
credits in the 12 quarters prior to becoming disabled.

People who become disabled before 22 will eventually qualify for benefits
based on a parent's work history. They're eligible as soon as either parent
dies, or either parent starts drawing Social Security benefits.

Over-age-50 widows and widowers, even if they have no work history of their
own, sometimes qualify for disability benefits based on their deceased
spouses' earnings histories.

SSI has no work-history requirement.

Q. If I get Social Security disability benefits, will I also get Medicare?

A. Generally, a Social Security disability beneficiary qualifies for
Medicare after two years of drawing cash benefits. People with chronic
kidney disease and people with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's
disease) qualify sooner.

Q. Many people who have been declared disabled by family doctors, their
employers, or even other government agencies, will fall short of Social
Security's definition of disability. How does Social Security define

A. According to the Social Security Act, disability is "inability to engage
in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable
physical or mental impairment which can be expected to last for a continuous
period of not less than 12 months". In plain English, if a worker is unable
to earn more than $810 per month in a job, and the reason is a medical
condition, he or she should apply for disability.

Q. Fewer than half of all disability applicants are allowed to receive
benefits. Why is it so difficult to qualify?

A. The Social Security Administration doesn't pay partial disability
benefits. Many applicants are too disabled for jobs they've held in the
past. But if they are still able to do some other substantial work, Social
Security must by law deny their applications for disability benefits. It
doesn't matter whether appropriate job vacancies exist, or whether employers
are actually willing to hire particular workers.

Social Security doesn't pay short-term disability benefits either. If an
applicant's condition is expected to improve enough to allow a return to
gainful employment within 12 months, he or she will not qualify for Social
Security disability or SSI.

Q. Who makes disability decisions for Social Security?

A. The Social Security Administration pays each state government to operate
a Disability Determinations Service. Although local Social Security offices
take applications for disability benefits, specially trained disability
examiners at the state DDS make disability decisions.

The disability examiner contacts the applicant's doctors and other medical
treatment sources to compile a medical history, including lab findings,
diagnosis, prognosis, and other observations. DDS has doctors on staff to
help interpret medical evidence.

Q. If I apply for disability, will I have to go to Social Security's doctor?

A. In an ideal situation, DDS makes its decision based on existing medical
records. If additional tests or observations are needed, the government pays
for them. However, these examinations are conducted by independent
physicians practicing in the community--not by government employees.

Q. How do I apply for disability benefits?

A. Call 1-800-772-1213. Or click on Or visit your local Social
Security office.

Q. Social Security turned me down for disability benefits. What do I do now?

A. You have the right to appeal. Call 1-800-772-1213, or visit your local
Social Security office. Someone else will review your application and your
medical records and make a new decision. Of course, there are no guarantees,
but many people get their benefits on appeal after being turned down when
they first apply.

Bill Hunot is Social Security's senior Public Affairs Specialist. Send
questions to (e-mail address removed)


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