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By Diana Wade
Disability Advocate 

Common questions about Social Security Disability

Ask the Advocate

 

August 4, 2018

What is the definition of disability used by Social Security?

Under the Social Security Act, "disability" means, "inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months."

I am disabled, but I have plenty of money in the bank. Do I have to wait until this money is gone before I apply for Social Security disability benefits?

No. If you have worked in recent years or if you are applying for Disabled Widow's or Widower's benefits or Disabled Adult Child benefits, it does not matter how much money you have in the bank. There is no reason to wait to file the claim.

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?

Possibly. If you have worked five out of 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 qualify for Social Security disability benefits based upon their own earnings. Also a homemaker, if poor enough, can qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) whether he or she has worked in the past or not.

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

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 which 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.

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?

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

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?

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.

Can I get both worker's compensation and Social Security disability benefits?

Yes. There is an offset, which reduces Social Security disability benefits because of worker's compensation benefits paid, but in virtually all cases, there is 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.

How can I tell if I will be found disabled by Social Security?

Unless your disability is catastrophic (such as terminal cancer, a heart condition so bad that you are on a heart transplant waiting list, total paralysis of both legs, etc.), there is no easy way for you to tell whether you will be found disabled by Social Security. In the end, the decision of whether or not to apply for Social Security disability benefits should not be based upon whether or not the person feels that Social Security will find them disabled. Representatives familiar with Social Security disability can make predictions about who will win and who will lose, but even they can seldom be sure. An individual should make the decision about whether or not to file for Social Security disability based upon their own belief about their condition. If the individual feels that he or she is disabled and is not going to be able to return to work in the near future, the individual should file for Social Security disability benefits. If denied, the individual should consult with a representative familiar with Social Security disability to get an opinion as to the chances of success on appeal.

An Accredited Disability Representative with more than 20 years experience, Diana Wade believes her clientele can be comfortable knowing that she is recognized by SSA and a charter member of NADR. To contact Ms. Wade call (661) 821-0494, email dianapwade@att.net or visit CaliforniaDisability.net.

 
 

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