Manring & Farrell

Ohio Social Security Disability And SSI Legal Blog

Waiting for SSDI benefits: What you should know

Filing for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits can be a difficult process. Some people may even refer to it as a waiting game, as it often takes an average of 18 months for applicants to receive a decision. In some cases, applicants have passed away from their disability, even before they were granted benefits. According to the Social Security Administration, more than 800,000 disabled Americans are waiting for a response to their SSDI application. A surprising 10,002 people on the waiting list in 2017 died while waiting for a response to their applications. Why does the SSDI application process take so long?

The problem lies in the fact that the number of SSDI claims have skyrocketed over the past decade. Many of the claims come from aging baby boomers, who are unable to work as they get older or have received a long-term disability from an on-the-job accident. Each claim must be researched by SSA representatives, who must first determine whether the disability or disease is covered under the SSDI benefits. They must then ensure that the claim includes sufficient medical evidence, including physician documentation. In some cases, the SSA representative must call and follow-up with the physician if there is any missing information. 

Reasons for claim denial and what to do next

Sometimes when you file for Social Security Disability benefits in Ohio, you receive a denial of your initial claim. At Manring & Farrell, we understand how disappointed and frustrated this can make you feel. However, this is not the time to give up. You may still be eligible to collect benefits, and you have the right to appeal the decision. 

Unlike SSI, eligibility for Social Security Disability is not dependent on financial need. Rather, your work history and the taxes you have paid earn you the right to collect. However, it is not always clear from your initial claim that you have earned that right. When the Social Security Administration denies your claim, one of the following reasons is probably behind the decision. 

Will your condition fast-track you for disability benefits?

Qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits is not always easy. If the condition with which you suffer is rare or complex, it may not be among those in the Social Security Administration's "blue book," the official list of approved conditions that qualify you for benefits. For many in Ohio, obtaining eligibility for disability means proving their symptoms prevent them from earning a living, and this can add time to an already long approval process.

However, more than just having a list of symptoms, you may be unable to work because your medical condition is especially serious. If this is the case, you may not have the time to wait the months it typically takes for the approval process and even longer between approval and the arrival of your first benefits check. Fortunately, the SSA offers a Compassionate Allowance program to fast-track certain applicants.

How are SSI and SSD different?

The Social Security Administration runs several programs that provide financial assistance to people in need, not only in Ohio but across the nation. Among the most commonly used of these are Supplemental Security Income, also known as SSI, and Social Security Disability Insurance, which sometimes goes by the abbreviations SSD or SSDI. According to the National Council on Aging, they are similar in that they provide benefits partly on the basis of long-term disability. Between that and the similarities between their abbreviations, it is understandable that you may confuse the two. As a matter of fact, however, they are significantly different in other respects. 

There are two groups of people who may qualify for SSI: elderly adults and disabled people of any age. SSI is a need-based program, which means that you need to be able to demonstrate that you have limited resources and reduced earning income capability due to your disability and/or age. The Social Security Administration does not take your past work history into account when determining your eligibility for SSI.

How do you contact your members of Congress?

If there is a delay in your claim for Social Security Disability benefits and you are starting to get frustrated, you are within your rights to turn to the members of Congress who represent your district or Ohio as a whole. Though your congressional members do not have the power or authority to instantly resolve any and all Social Security claims issues, they can sometimes be helpful in expediting a stalled claims process. 

It never does any harm to ask your legislators for help, and it may well do some good. However, you need to take the first step in reaching out to them. According to the National Priorities Project, there are several ways to accomplish this. 

What factors affect your disabled widow's benefits?

The amount you can receive in Social Security benefits as a disabled widow or widower in Ohio varies depending on a number of different factors. These include the date that you became disabled, your age and whether you care for children under the age of 16. If you choose to remarry, that can have an effect as well, although it depends partly on the other factors.

According to the Social Security Administration, the basic rule is that you can receive widow's/widower's benefits if you became disabled prior to your spouse's death or within seven years thereafter and you are 50 years old or older. Assuming that your spouse had reached full retirement age upon death, you could receive 71.5% of the benefit amount if you are age 50 to 59. Remarriage does not affect your eligibility for survivors benefits if it takes place after age 50. 

Is your disability case under review?

The disability benefits you received from the Social Security Administration may have come just in time. You may recall the long, tedious process of applying for disability and the tense weeks of waiting to learn if the SSA accepted your application. Meanwhile, you were dealing with the pain or inconvenience of your medical condition and the struggle of being unable to work to support yourself.

Receiving benefits for a disability is something that most applicants do not obtain, even some who may deserve them. While you may have been fortunate in qualifying for disability funds, you should be aware that your benefits may not continue indefinitely. In many cases, the SSA will do periodic reviews of your condition to determine if you are still eligible for financial assistance.

Social Security options for disabled spouses

For many people in Ohio, Social Security is an essential form of income during their retirement years. In addition to potentially having your own Social Security benefits, you might be able to receive Social Security payments based on your spouse's contributions after they have died. If you are also disabled, you will want to understand how this might happen and how it might impact any disability benefits you currently receive.

As explained by the Social Security Administration, the amount or percentage of benefits you may receive based on your deceased spouse's earnings will vary in part based on your age. If you are at or over the age of retirement, you may apply for full benefits but if you are still 60, you might only be able to qualify for partial benefits. There are some situations, however, in which you may be able to receive benefits even if you are younger than 60.

What is supplemental security income?

As an Ohio resident who has been injured or disabled to the point of being unable to work, there are still financial options available that can allow you to support yourself. Today, Manring & Farrell will discuss one of them: supplemental security income.

Also known as SSI, supplemental security income works similarly to social security disability (SSD). The main difference is that you don't need to have been employed in order to qualify for the benefits. However, some requirements remain the same. For example, in order to qualify for both SSI and SSD, you must be unable to work and have a disability. In addition, for SSI qualification, you can't have assets that are worth more than a certain set amount.

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