One of the happiest conversations I get to have with my clients is about what happens after they’ve been accepted for Social Security Disability. There are several very important questions that come up during this conversation – questions you should know the answers to.
When does my disability benefits check start?
The first question is when does my check start? This is kind of a two-part question.
Social Security will pay back one year from before the date you applied. Usually, it takes a year and a half or two years to get to see the judge. If you applied, they can pay back one year from before that date so your back-benefit check could be two-three years of back pay.
That check usually takes about a month or two to be received after you’re awarded the benefit but they’re going to pay you back that two-three years. It could be further; it could be less depending on when the judge accepted you. I would say an average is usually two to three years of back pay.
There is a five-month waiting period but that’s usually eaten up in the time period you’ve been waiting just for your hearing.
If you’re accepted immediately when you apply, your first check won’t be for five months. However, if you’ve had to wait 24 months for a hearing and are accepted, they may only pay back 19 months because the first five months was a waiting period. Typically, what you’re looking at is your check starts about a month or two after the judge tells you that you are going to get your benefit, but that check will pay backward about two to three years.
When does the disability insurance start?
There are two types of insurance that you can get.
If you receive SSI, that’s Supplemental Security Income, you get Medicaid insurance.
If you’re on Medicaid, your insurance starts immediately. As soon as you’re awarded benefits, you get insurance and that covers everything. It’s 100% coverage – covers hospitals, doctors, everything, and it starts the day that you’re awarded your benefits.
The other type of insurance is Medicare. Medicare comes with SSDI – Social Security Disability Insurance. Medicare does not kick in for 24 months after your onset date, which is 24 months after you stopped working.
This can play out in two ways. If you apply for disability and they accept you right away, you’re not going to have Medicare for two years. That could be a huge problem with no job and no health insurance for two years when you obviously have a serious medical condition that’s keeping you from working.
Now your state will probably have Medicaid for people who have been accepted for disability by the Social Security Administration. Florida does. So, while the state may have insurance for you, the Social Security Administration will not have insurance for you. Your Medicare will not start for two years.
Now if you waited two years to get in front of the judge, this is where that wait will pay off somewhat. If you’ve been two years waiting for the judge, your insurance might be ready to start soon after the judge awards you benefits. This is because that two-year waiting period has been taken up while you were sitting at home waiting for the judge to call you.
In general, the insurance starts two years from the last day you work which, if you’re accepted immediately on application, could be two years from the day you apply; if you’ve had to wait two or three years to see the judge, it could be that your Medicare starts immediately.
Can I Work While On Disability?
After you’re accepted for Social Security Disability, I get a lot of questions about can I work? This is also one that’s split between SSI and SSDI.
Supplemental Security Income
Supplemental Security Income is asset and income based. Basically what happens is there is going to be a limit. SSI will take 50 cents of every dollar that you earn, and you shouldn’t earn more than about $1,100 or $1,200 a month.
If you’re earning more than that, SSI is going to come in and say, “You’re earning too much, we don’t think you’re disabled anymore.” A good rule of thumb is don’t earn more than about $260 a week. But on SSI they’ll take 50 cents of every dollar you earn, so if you earn $260 they’ll reduce your check $130.
If you earned $1000 in a month and your SSI check is $700 they’ll say, “Well, you earned $1000 so half of that is 500; your SSI check was $700. We’ll subtract $500 from $700. Your SSI check is only $200 this month.” Now the good news is, your total is still $1000 + $200 = $1,200. So, you’re still making more than you would have, but SSI punishes you and takes half of what you earned out of your SSI check.
Social Security Disability Insurance
For SSDI, you are not punished for earning money. You can earn up to $1,170 which is $260 a week; so as long as you earn less than $260 a week, you’re fine. They don’t take it out of your check. So, if your social security disability check is $1000 a month and you earn another $1000 a month, you could have $2000 a month in income without a problem. You have to report it to the Social Security Administration, but they will not reduce your check because you’re earning money.
Short answer yes, if you’re on disability SSI or SSDI you can work as long as you don’t earn too much money. Generally speaking, it’s about $1000 a month. Just keep it under $1000 a month and you should be fine.
Will the Social Security Administration ever try to cut me off?
The short answer to that is yes, especially if you’re a younger individual.
If you’re accepted for Social Security under the age of 50 or 55, they are definitely going to review your claim. The biggest problem that people have is that every three to five years Social Security’s going to review your claim to make sure that you’re still disabled. Especially if you are accepted in your 20s and 30s.
The first thing they will look at is if you are going to the doctor. It’s the easiest way because you’ll be on Medicare which they control. Here is an example.
If you’re accepted for a mental health condition and you stop going to the doctor or stop taking your meds, stop going to your psychiatrist for two years, they will see it. They are going to say “Since he hasn’t seen his psychiatrist in two years, his condition must be resolved.” And they will cut off your benefits.
It’s the same if you were accepted for a severe back problem or seizures and you stop going to your neurologist or you stop going to your pain management doctor. They are going to say, “Well, the condition resolved, the seizures were healed, the back problem must have gone away so he doesn’t need disability anymore.”
If you’re on disability you have to be aware that they are monitoring your claim on disability. If you stop seeking treatment, if you give them the impression that your condition has improved, they will review your claim and will turn your claim off.
You must continue to seek treatment. You must continue to provide evidence to Social Security that you are disabled. As long as you’re going to the doctor, as long as you are still treating, and as long as your condition is still severe and preventing you from working, you should have no problem. But if you get on disability and stop treating, they will cut you off, and they will do it quickly. It will only take them a few years to figure that out and you will be cut off.
If you have any questions about Social Security Disability, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. We are here to help you. Call today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
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