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Archive for August, 2011

Regularly Attending School For Benefits

ssi schoolIf you or a young person that you know receives Supplemental Security Income benefits, you may be aware that there is a Student Earned Income Exclusion benefit.  Essentially, if a recipient is under the age of 22 and is regularly attending school, they can earn over 1,000 dollars worth of external income per month that does not get counted against their overall “income and assets”.

What Does Regularly Attending School Mean?

As with many things that have to do with the government, much is determined by the definition of words.  In order to be eligible for Student Earned Income Exclusion Benefits, there are certain parameters that need to be met in order to fill the requirement of “regularly attending school.”  According to the Social Security Administration, these are the rules that need to be followed in order to meet this qualification:

  • In college or university for at least eight hours a week, or;
  • In grades 7-12 for at least 12 hours a week; or
  • In a training course to prepare for employment for at least 12 hours a week (15 hours a week if the course includes shop practice; or
  • In a home school situation for at least 12 hours a week and in accordance with the home school laws in the state or jurisdiction where the student resides; or
  • For less time than indicated above for reasons that are beyond the student’s control, such as illness.

If these parameters are met, the individual is considered to be “regularly attending school” and is thus eligible for the program.  If you are unsure if you are eligible or not, be sure to contact the Social Security Administration for more information on the subject.

 

Supplemental Security Income: Earned Income Exclusion

social-security-checkIf you or somebody that you know is receiving benefits from Supplemental Security Income, you might be wondering about the possibility of work while receiving these benefits.  After all, in the case of Supplemental Security Income, the amount of money that is given out is not very high – it is intended only to provide enough money for the most basic necessities.  It’s not intended to be able to provide for a luxurious lifestyle.

Can I Work?

The short answer is yes!  In fact, the Social Security Administration is very keen to have individuals who are receiving both Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance to get back out into the workforce.  There is a great strain on both of these programs, and helping individuals who could possibly be able to get back out into the workforce, even in a lesser capacity, is a priority.

Even though the Social Security Administration is eager to help people work, it also understands that not everybody is able to work a full-time schedule.  In order to both help people get back to work in whatever capacity they can while recognizing the need for recipients of Supplemental Security Income to continue receiving benefits, there is the earned income exclusion rule.  Essentially, if you make fewer than 65 dollars a month, this does not count against your income.  If you make over 65 dollars a month, one out of every two dollars is counted against your income.

In this way, you can work to your abilities while receiving Supplemental Security Income.  Be sure to look into work incentive programs and see what they can offer you and your loved ones!

 

Why Is There A Wait Period?

benefitsYou might be aware that if you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance that there is a five month wait between getting accepted for the insurance and actually getting the disability payments for the insurance.  Why does this happen?  Many people who genuinely need the money that they get from Social Security Disability Insurance, and waiting five months can just seem unnecessarily cruel.

So Why The Wait?

The official reason for the wait is that it helps prove that your disability is actually a real problem.  Five months is generally enough time for most non-permanent disabilities to clear themselves up.  In the event that your disability ends up getting better, your benefits will be removed as you will be eligible to enter the work force again.

The next time that you feel frustrated by the fact that SSDI takes five months to go through the system, remember that patience and planning is important.  It helps if you take the time to plan financially for this wait time.  Try not to incur additional expenses or debts during this time and before you apply for benefits.  This will help you deal with the interterm period as well as possible.

Waiting for Social Security Disability Insurance can be hard, but there are enough people who have tried to defraud the system that the wait period is necessary.  If your disability is genuine and permanent, you will receive the benefits you need soon enough!  Patience helps – you’ll get through the wait!

 

Only The Facts, Please

disability benefitsIf you are applying for either Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income, the good news is that the information that you need to apply to either of these programs is the same.  It is important to understand the specific information that you need to apply for both of these programs.  When you understand what is required of you before you apply, you’ll likely see the disability benefits faster.

What Do I Need?

To apply to either Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income, you need the following information in hand to be furnished:

  • Social Security Number
  • Birth certificate or other proof of age (if you do not have a birth certificate or have lost it, you can contact the Social Security Administration for information on how to get a new copy)
  • Names, addresses, and phone numbers of any doctors, hospitals, clinics, or institutions that have treated you
  • Names of all medications being taken (or medications that have been taken)

Having all of this on hand helps the process go that much smoother.  If you do not have any of this information or are missing parts of it, be sure to contact the Social Security Administration.  They can help guide you through the process of locating these vital pieces of information.

It can help if you assemble this information before you go through the application process.  In the event that you or a loved one is unable to complete the process on your own, it can help to hire assistance to guide you through the process.

Work Incentives for Supplemental Security Income

work incentives programIf you or somebody you love is a recipient of Supplemental Security Income, you might not be aware of the fact that there are work incentive programs in order to help those who are living with disabilities get back in the workforce if they are able.  While the fact that Social Security Disability Insurance comes with work incentive benefits is widely known, the same is also true for those who receive Supplemental Security Income as well.

What Is A Work Incentive Plan?

Both Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance are geared toward supporting those who are unable to work.  However, there is a population of individuals who are receiving benefits from one or both of these plans who may be able to work, at least a little bit.  The work incentive plans are in place to encourage individuals to work where they can, without fear of losing their benefits.

Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance should not be confused with welfare plans.  Unless the individual reviving the disability benefits is deemed to have a permanently affecting disability, the programs are in place to help support them during their time of inactivity.  Particularly with the strain on the government in recent years when it comes to money, both of these programs are eager to help disability recipients get back out in the workforce, even in a lesser capacity.

So if you or somebody you love is receiving benefits from Supplemental Security Income, there are work incentive plans available to help support you should you wish to get back to work.

Does Social Security Disability Insurance Discourage Work?

disability workOne of the major differences between Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income is that Social Security Disability Insurance is designed for those who have at one point worked.  For some individuals who receive Social Security Disability Insurance, there is a chance of returning to the work force through the work incentives program.

The main question that needs to be asked, however, is how often do individuals who start receiving Social Security Disability Insurance return to work?  The overall statistics on this subject are not entirely inspiring: in 2009, for example, of 630,074 benefit terminations, only 5.1 percent returned to work.

What Do These Stats Mean?

Of course, these statistics have generated a lot of commotion within the community.  While there is a portion of those who receive Social Security Disability Insurance that could theoretically return to work, there is a good portion of those who are getting disability benefits who are disabled enough to never be able to return to the work force – in addition, about 54 percent of those who receive disability benefits reached full retirement age while on the rolls and 35 percent died.

Whether or not Social Security Disability Insurance inhibits individuals’ desire to return to work is still up in the air. But if you are one of the individuals who could theoretically return to work, be sure to check out the work-benefit programs in your area.  There are ways to work and not lose your benefits – and if you are at all able-bodied or minded, it’s important to make the effort to get out of the house and back to work when your health allows you to do so.

 

Improperly Reported Assets

ssiIf you are on Supplemental Security Income, you might be aware of the parameters of the program and what is required of individuals to continue receiving payments on these programs.  However, if you are not, here are the stats: the main difference between Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance is that Supplemental Security Income is meant as a safety net for those who have long-standing disabilities that have permanently affected their ability to work.

What’s Assets Got To Do With It?

SSDI is meant for those who have worked and put money into the Social Security administration for at least 10 years worth of time.  Supplemental Security Income is mostly for those who have never been able to work.  It is definitely not a small program: payments under SSI in the current fiscal year are expected to go to more than 6.8 million people and cost more than $53 billion. In 2000, payments totaling $24 billion went to 5.1 million people.

In order to revitalize the program and prevent it from going bankrupt, many politicians are working toward making recipients of Supplemental Security Income properly report their assets.  It has been estimated that $4 billion in overpayments went to SSI recipients who did not properly report assets.

If you or somebody that you love is a recipient of Supplemental Security Income, be sure that you report your assets to their fullest extent.  Failure to do so can result in problems or even the loss of your benefits as regulations crack down – so be prepared to provide the government with a full accounting of your monetary worth!

How Long Can I Be Enrolled?

disability enrollmentWhile both Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income are generally supposed to be for those who have permanent disabilities, the fact of the matter is that not all medical conditions last forever.  Social security needs to make allowances for those who end up getting better, or those who have an uncertain prognosis.

Just because there is a chance that your disability may get better does not mean that you are automatically disqualified from either Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Insurance.

How Does Enrollment Work?

Depending on how your hearing goes and the nature of your disability, the amount of time that passes between case reviews will be different.  No matter what kind of disability you have, you will experience a review at some point.  It just depends on how much time goes between reviews – generally, the more severe the disability, the longer the time between reviews.  The following is a list of how time between disability reviews tends to be calculated:

  • If medical improvement is “expected,” there are case reviews every six to 18 months.
  • If medical improvement is “possible,” there are case reviews every three years.
  • If medical improvement is “not expected,” your case will be reviewed in seven years.

What jurisdiction your disability falls under depends on the extent of your disability and your inability to work.  Usually, individuals who have Supplemental Security Income have longer periods between case reviews than those receiving Social Security Disability Insurance, but this is not always the case.  The process of applying for disability is different for each person – as is the amount of time between case reviews.

What Does Social Security Consider A Disability?

social security disabilityIf you are applying for either Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income, be sure to understand what the Social Security Administration considers a disability.  Many people actually get through the Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income process only to be stymied by the fact that the Social Security Administration does not consider their “disability” as such.  Understanding the definitions will help you in figuring out if you are eligible or not!

What Makes A Person Disabled?

Generally, disability in this definition is considered a person’s inability to work.  You are considered disabled if you are unable to work at the same capacity as you were before an injury or illness.  There are certain conditions that will help you get on a “fast track” to disability benefits, but any illness or injury that renders you unable to work can be considered a disability.

It can help to call the Social Security Administration and check if your condition is considered a disability and to learn more about the kinds of paperwork that are required to prove your inability to work.  Understanding what is required of you when you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income will make your life a lot easier in the long run, so be sure to read the fine print and ask a lot of questions before putting the time and effort and energy into applying!  The more you understand about the process now, the easier it is later.

 

Should I Work While Waiting?

workingIf you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income, you’ve likely got a long wait ahead of you.  The average time from application to receiving benefits for either of these programs is about two years, which is a long time to go without any sort of monetary support.  Many people wonder if they should continue trying to work during the application process so that they can have some form of income.  But does working jeopardize your chances of getting the benefits that you need?

The Long And Short Of It

In general, you are not prohibited from working during the application process.  In fact, many people who try to get a job while applying for benefits are unsuccessful due to the extent of their disability – and should this be the case, it can help you get your benefits faster since it shows a displayed need.

Of course, if you are able and willing to work at a full time job for a long period of time, the Social Security Administration may decide that you are not disabled enough to receive disability benefits.  It can be difficult to predict what the Social Security Administration decides on individuals who have some ability to work – it is unpredictable.  But if you are unable to find work due to your disability for a period of at least 3 to 6 months, this can help your case.  So even if you are unable to work, it might be a good idea when applying for either Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income to at least look for a job.  The harder you try, the better it looks on your application for disability benefits!

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