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Posts Tagged ‘SSA’

Receiving Disability Benefits – Are You Able to Work at All?

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Suppose you make it all the way to final step of the Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) application process. The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) finds that you are unable to work and recognizes that you have a severe disability. You cannot return to your previous job. The final question that the SSA will try to answer before awarding you benefits is this – can you work at all?

SSDI benefits are reserved for those Americans with the most severe medical conditions and disabilities, those unable to perform any work at all without terrible pain. Perhaps you spent years working in the construction business but then suffered a bad back injury. You may not be able to lift 50-pound bags anymore, but, if you can sit at a desk and type without pain, the SSA will likely not award you disability benefits because you are able to perform some type of work.

The SSA performs a broad assessment of your ability to work. If you reach the stage at which you have a hearing before an administrative law judge, you and the SSA will likely have medical and vocational experts thoroughly examine you to determine what you are capable of. Experts will testify about your ability to sit, stand and walk, to reach with your arms, and to work in a variety of jobs. If you are unable to perform any job, the SSA will begin paying you SSDI benefits. If you can perform some work, even if it is substantially different from what you did in the past, you will be unable to receive disability benefits.

Have you gone through examinations with vocational experts for disability benefits evaluation? What types of work were you evaluated for?

Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability lawyers

Children Can Also Receive SSI and Disability Benefits

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Many types of Social Security benefits are available not just for the person directly involved (the retired person or the disabled worker), but also for dependents in that person’s family. Children, in particular, are often eligible for financial support if their parent becomes disabled or passes away or if the child becomes disabled. Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits, which we discussed yesterday, are also available for children. To qualify for SSI benefits, a child must be under 18 or, if he or she is attending school, the child must be under 22.

As with regular SSI benefits, the child must be blind or disabled. The definition of “disabled” is slightly different for children than it is for adult, though. The child’s condition must be expected to last longer than a year, and the disability must seriously limit the child’s activities. There are certain conditions that qualify a child to immediately start receiving SSI benefits. Some of these conditions include HIV infection, cerebral palsy, down syndrome and a birth weight below two pounds, ten ounces.

Children may qualify for SSI payments from the time of their births. Once the child reaches 18, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) evaluates his or her disability the same way it does for adults, which generally requires that a person not be able to perform any work whatsoever.

Other Social Security benefits for which children may qualify on their own or through their guardians include retirement benefits, disability benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) program and survivors benefits for children who lose a parent. The SSA reports that, altogether, it provides 4.4 million children with over $2.4 billion in financial support each month when their parents retire, become disabled or pass away.

Do you have experience applying for Social Security benefits for children? What wisdom do you have to share with other children and their families?

Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability attorneys

SSI Benefits Provide Assistance, No Work History Required

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Although the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) administers Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits, SSI benefits differ from what we normally think of as Social Security benefits. SSI benefits do not require a work history; both Social Security retirement and disability benefits require Americans to have paid into the system. As a result, SSI benefits come from the Treasury Department’s general funds and not the Social Security trust fund. Despite the different sources of funds, SSI benefits have the same aim as retirement and disability benefits – provide financial support to older Americans or those with severe disabilities.

SSI benefits are available for three groups of people:

  • Those aged 65 or older
  • The blind
  • The disabled

Although there are no work requirements for SSI benefits, there is an income requirement, as the benefits are intended for older or disabled Americans with limited means. The SSA takes several different kinds of income into consideration when determining your eligibility for SSI benefits. Income that counts includes the following:

  • Money that is earned like wages, royalties or self-employment business
  • Benefits like Social Security benefits, pension payments, disability payments and unemployment benefits
  • Food or shelter that you receive for free or at a discount to its true value
  • What the SSA refers to as “deemed income,” which is money from your spouse or parents that partially contributes to your well being

The SSA then takes your total monthly income (less any money that does not count) and uses that figure (called your “countable income”) to determine how much your SSI benefits will be. In 2012, SSI rates are $698 for an individual and $1,048 for an individual with an eligible spouse. The SSA then reduces your SSI amount by the amount of your countable income. So, for example, if your countable income each month is $200 and you are eligible for SSI benefits, you would receive $698 minus $200 in SSI benefits, or $498 each month.

Do you receive SSI benefits? What factors impact the amount of assistance you are eligible for?

Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability lawyers

Types of Social Security Benefits That May Require Taxes

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

About one-third of Social Security beneficiaries have to pay taxes on their benefits. Whether you have to pay taxes depends on the type of Social Security benefits you are receiving and your total income (see Monday’s discussion for the latter). Today we cover the types of benefits and their tax liability.

Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) Benefits

SSI benefits are not taxable, so you will not have to include them when you file your tax return. SSI benefits are available for those suffering from a disability who earn a low income. Unlike Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, SSI is not based on work history.

Social Security Survivors Benefits

The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) pays these benefits to children and other family members of workers who pass away. Almost all children are eligible for these benefits in the event that their working parent dies. The benefits come from the years of work during which the parent paid into the Social Security system.

The tax consequences of survivors benefits depend on who receives the benefits. Survivors benefits do count as income, but only for the recipient, so, for example, a child’s survivors benefits go towards his or her tax return and not his or her parent’s return. As such, children would almost never have to pay taxes on their benefits, as they unlikely earn enough to make their benefits taxable. We discussed the calculation that children and other recipients of survivors benefits have to make in Monday’s post.

Lump Sum Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) Benefits

If an SSDI applicant has been trying to get benefits for years and then receives a favorable decision from the SSA, he or she will receive retroactive benefits for the time during which the applicant should have been receiving SSDI benefits. This larger-than-normal payment is a lump sum, and the Internal Revenue Service has special rules so that taxes do not take a big part of the lump sum in the year that the applicant received it.

Generally, you report the lump sum in the year that you got it, but you do not treat it all as income for that year. The SSA should break down how that lump sum should be treated for tax purposes on a form that the SSA provides you. We recommend consulting with a tax professional if you are concerned with the tax consequences of your lump sum disability payment.

Other Social Security Benefits

Other benefits generally count as income, and you should perform the calculations we discussed on Monday to determine whether you should pay taxes on your Social Security benefits.

Do you have any tax wisdom to share for others when it comes to Social Security benefits?

Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability lawyers