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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q. I used to work but lately I have been staying home taking care of the kids. I have now become sick. Can I get Social Security disability benefits?

A. Possibly. If you have worked five out the 10 years under Social Security before becoming disabled, you will have enough earnings in to potentially qualify for Social Security disability benefits. For individuals 31 or less, the requirements are a little different, since such individuals have not had such a long time to work. Unless a person has been staying home and taking care of their children for quite a long time, however, it is very possible that they will quality for Social Security disability benefits based upon their own earnings. Also a homemaker, if poor enough, can qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) whether they have worked in the past or not.

Q. How long do I have to wait after becoming disabled before I can file for Social Security disability benefits?

A. Not even one day. You can file for Social Security disability benefits on the very same day that you become disabled. Many individuals make the mistake of waiting months and even years after becoming disabled before filing a Social Security disability claim. There is no reason to file a Social Security disability claim if one has only a minor illness or one that is unlikely to last a year or more. However, an individual who suffers serious illness or injury and expects to be out of work for a year or more should not delay in filing a claim for Social Security disability benefits.

Q. I am still on sick leave from my employer. Can I file for Social Security disability now or do I have to wait until the sick leave is exhausted?

A. No, you do not have to wait until the sick leave is exhausted. You should file for Social Security disability now, if you believe that you will be out of work for a year or more.

Q. I got hurt on the job. I am drawing worker’s compensation benefits. Can I file a claim for Social Security disability benefits now or should I wait until the worker’s compensation ends?

A. You do not have to wait until the worker’s compensation ends and you should not wait that long. An individual can file a claim for Social Security disability benefits while receiving worker’s compensation benefits. It is best to file the Social Security disability claim as soon as possible because otherwise there may be a gap between the time the worker’s compensation ends and the Social Security disability benefits begin.

Social Security Disability v. Workers Compensation

Many people believe the only option available after sustaining a work place accident is workers compensation, this is not correct. If you are unable to work due to an injury on the job you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits in addition to workers compensation. Let Helping Hand help you figure this out.

Q. Can I get both worker’s compensation and Social Security disability benefits?

A. Yes. There is an offset, which reduces Social Security disability benefits because of worker’s compensation benefits paid, but in virtually all cases, there are still some Social Security disability benefits to be paid. In a few states the offset works the other way -- worker’s compensation benefits are reduced because of Social Security disability benefits.

Q. Do you have to be permanently disabled to get Social Security disability benefits?

A. No. You have to have been disabled for at least a year or are expected to be disabled for at least a year or have a condition that can be expected to result in death within a year.

Q. Who decides if I am disabled?

A. After an individual files a Social Security disability claim, the case is sent to a disability examiner at the Disability Determination agency in your state. The disability examiner working with a doctor makes the initial decision on the claim. If the claim is denied and the individual requests reconsideration, the case is then sent to another disability examiner at the Disability Determination agency, where it goes through much the same process. If a claim is denied at reconsideration, the claimant may then request a hearing. At this point, the case is sent to an Administrative Law Judge who works for Social Security. The Administrative Law Judge makes an independent decision upon the claim. This is the only level at which the claimant and the decision maker get to see each other.

Q. Why does Social Security consider my age in determining whether I am disabled?

A. Social Security has to consider age, because that is what the Social Security Act requires. As people get older, they become less adaptable, less able to switch to different jobs to cope with health problems. A severe leg injury that might cause a 30 year old to switch to a job in which he or she can sit down most of the time, might completely disable a 60 year old with the same condition. A 60 year old is less capable of making an adjustment to a different type of work.

Q. How far back will they pay benefits if I am found disabled?

A. For Disability Insurance Benefits and for Disabled Widow’s and Widower’s Benefits, the benefits cannot begin until five months have passed after the person becomes disabled. In addition, benefits cannot be paid more than one year prior to the date of the claim. For a Disabled Adult Child, there is no five-month waiting period before benefits begin, but benefits cannot be paid more than six months prior to the date of the claim. SSI benefits cannot be paid prior to the start of the month following the date of the claim.
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