Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Can my child receive Social Security Disability benefits?

If you have a child suffering from a mental or physical disability, you may be wondering if you can obtain Social Security Disability benefits for him or her.  The answer is YES you can.  Many children suffer from disabilities that qualify them for Social Security Disability benefits.  A child younger than 18 can receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits if (1) he or she meets Social Security's definition of disability for children and (2) his or her income and resources fall within the eligibility limits.

What medical conditions would meet Social Security's definition of disability for a child?
There are various medical conditions -- both physical and mental conditions -- that would meet Social Security's definition of disability.  Some of these conditions include: autism, growth impairments, conditions related to the muskuloskeletal system, vision and hearing problems and asthma.  In general the Social Security Administration (SSA) is looking to see if a child has a physical or mental condition (or combination of conditions) that results in severe limitations to their ability to function at home, school and in the community.  In addition, the condition must have been disabling, or expected to be disabling, for at least 12 months.

For most cases, the SSA will follow the normal procedures in determining whether your child qualifies for Social Security Disability benefits.  However, for some medical conditions SSA will make SSI payments right away for up to 6 months while it determines whether your child is disabled.  The conditions that may qualify include: HIV infection, total blindness, total deafness, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, muscular dystrophy, severe intellectual disorder, and birth weight below 2 pounds and 10 ounces.  If SSA then decides that your child is not eligible for SSI benefits, you will not be required to pay this money back.

How does SSA determine the income and resources for a child?
When deciding if a child can receive SSI benefits, SSA will consider the child's income and resources as well as the income and resources of family members living in the child's household.

What happens when my child turns 18?
When a child turns 18, SSA will reevaluate whether the child is still eligible for SSI benefits under the medical and non-medical rules that apply to adults.  Your child will continue to receive SSI benefits if his or her medical and financial conditions qualify him or her for benefits under the rules that apply to adults.  A major difference is that SSA does not count income and resources of family members when assessing whether an adult meets the financial requirements for SSI benefits.  This means that many children who could not qualify for SSI benefits because their parents' income and resources were too high would be able to qualify at the age of 18.

If you have any questions regarding whether you child qualifies for SSI benefits, you should contact an attorney that is experienced in handing Social Security Disability benefits.

This is NOT legal advice.  This blog provides general information about Social Security Disability cases.  To discuss your particular circumstances and claim, please contact a lawyer in your area.

Friday, July 27, 2012

There may be more applications for Social Security Disability because more Americans have disabilities.

Lately there has been a lot of discussion regarding the dramatic increase in Social Security Disability applications.  People have put forth numerous reasons attempting to explain the increase.  Commentators have cited the economic conditions, people unable to find jobs, and an aging population.  These are probably all valid reasons but perhaps one additional reason is that more Americans have a disability.  According to the Census data, in 2010 there were 56.7 million people with a disability.  That is an increase of 2.2 million people since 2005.  http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2012/07/26/census-more-disabilities/16111/

Monday, July 16, 2012

Veterans Applying for Social Security Disability benefits: 4 Commonly Asked Questions

There are many veterans or military service personnel who have become disabled and qualify for Social Security Disability benefits along with the benefits provided by the Veteran's Administration.  Here are answers to 4 questions that are commonly asked by veterans or military service personnel regarding Social Security Disability benefits:
  • Can I receive Social Security Disability benefits and veterans disability benefits?
This depends on the type of benefits you are applying for.  You can receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and VA compensation benefits (service-connected disability benefits) at the same time.  However, to calculate Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, the Social Security Administration will include the VA pension benefits you receive when determining the amount of SSI benefits you can collect.
  • If I already receive veteran's disability benefits, am I automatically qualified for Social Security Disability benefits? 
No.  Both programs are completely separate and have different eligibility requirements.  As a result, being eligible for disability on one program does not automatically qualify you for another program.
  • Does military pay affect my eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits?
The answer to this question depends on whether you are engaging in substantial work activity.  You are not eligible for Social Security Disability benefits if you are engaged in substantial gainful activity, which means that you are getting paid over a certain amount for work activity.  However, if you are receiving military pay while you are on limited duty or receiving medical treatment this would generally not constitute work activity and, therefore, you would be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.
  • When can I apply for SSDI or SSI benefits?
Military service personnel can apply for SSDI and SSI benefits while in military status or after discharge.  There are several ways to apply including online and at a Social Security office.  You can also apply by finding an experienced attorney who handles Social Security Disability claims.

This is NOT legal advice.  This blog provides general information about Social Security Disability cases.  To discuss your particular circumstances and claim, please contact a lawyer in your area.