Social Security benefits are designed to supplement the fixed incomes of retirees and aid families of individuals who have died. They are also widely used to supplement the incomes of workers who have become disabled.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a vital government support program that helps millions of disabled Americans each year. Approximately 25% of all young adults will eventually be disabled prior to reaching the age of 67, according to the SSA.
If you receive Social Security disability benefits, make sure you are receiving the maximum benefit for which you qualify. There are certain steps you may take during the application process, such as submitting all your relevant medical information, that may increase your benefit amount.
In addition, you may not be taking advantage of all the help programs associated with SS benefits, including Medicare, the federal health care coverage program, and the Ticket to Work Program, which helps benefit recipients become financially independent.
Note: SSDI is different from Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is a government program that may give monetary benefits to you and your children if you are disabled and have a limited income.
Discover how other government assistance programs associated with SSDI may improve you and your family’s quality of life.
Maximizing Your Benefit through the SSDI Application Process
The Social Security disability application may be completed online or by calling the SSDI toll free number. You may also apply at a Social Security disability office, though office hours may vary.
In addition to submitting relevant personal information such as your date of birth, address, details on your immediate family members, employer details and military service credentials, you will need to gather your medical information.
This includes relevant information to verify your doctors, healthcare professionals and the clinics or hospitals where you receive treatment. You will also need to give a date for when your medical condition affected your ability to work, your job history and the skills and duties you performed while working.
Your medical information and work information must be as accurate as possible on your disability application because it will help you gain the benefits you need.
If you pass the basic eligibility requirements, your case will be sent to your state Disability Determination Services office.
This office will contact the doctors you listed on your SSDI application to determine whether you are disabled. While you may have already received a disability diagnosis, you must have a severe medical condition in order to qualify for benefits. Consequently, the doctors you list on your application must know your case well and be able to provide a detailed explanation of your disability.
Family Members Who May Receive Benefits
Did you know that your immediate family members may be eligible for SSDI benefits, as well? As an example, a spouse who cares for your child may qualify as long as your child is 15 years of age or younger.
Other family members that may receive benefits through SSDI include:
- Your spouse, if he or she has reached 62 years of age or is disabled.
- Your child, if the child is unmarried and younger than 18 years of age. This includes adopted children and may include stepchildren and grandchildren. The child may receive benefits at 19 years of age if he or she is still in high school.
- Your unmarried child who is disabled. To qualify, he or she must have held disability status before reaching 22 years of age.
The Social Security disability requirements state that divorced spouses may also qualify for benefits. This may be true if your divorced spouse is single, at least 62 years of age and was married to you for a minimum of 10 years.
Note that your benefits will not be lowered if your immediate family members receive benefits as well.
Medicare and SSDI
When researching social security benefits and eligibility guidelines, you may not have known about your access to Medicare. Normally, Medicare is offered to applicants who are 65 years of age or older.
You will qualify for hospital insurance, or Medicare Part A, free of charge if you are younger than 65 years of age and one of the following circumstances applies to you:
- You are entitled to or have received disability insurance through Social Security for two years.
- You have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease and receive SS disability benefits. You may qualify even if you have received SS benefits for less than two years.
- You suffer from permanent kidney failure, require dialysis or a kidney transplant and qualify for SS disability benefits. You may also qualify for Medicare without SS benefits if you have worked for a certain length of time in a government job and paid Medicare taxes.
- You have worked in a government job and paid a certain amount in Medicare taxes, and you have been entitled to disability benefits for a minimum of two years.
If you are enrolled in Medicare Part A free of charge, you will also qualify for Medicare Part B. However, you must pay a monthly premium for Part B. The cost of your premium may vary depending on your income.
Ticket to Work Program
The Social Security Disability Insurance program also encourages certain beneficiaries to take advantage of the Ticket to Work program. SS disability recipients who want to go back to work may use this program to find meaningful employment, and potentially become financially independent.
You may use this program if you are an SS disability beneficiary, family member or caretaker. Once you decide to take part in the program, a service provider may help you develop your goals and discuss your best options. The Ticket to Work program has two main service providers: Employment Networks and Vocal Rehabilitation agencies. A service provider may also offer career counseling and even a job placement, depending on the career you choose.
It is important to know that you will not automatically lose your federal or state health care benefits if you begin working again. If you have a disability and begin to work again, your access to disability benefits may be protected by certain laws.