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Four basic concepts for Social Security Disability

Disability is something that many residents of Tampa have to deal with on a daily basis. Aside from the physical or mental limitations caused by illness or injury, there are obviously financial implications. For this reason, about 11 million people across the country receive Social Security Disability related benefits totaling around $11 billion in financial support from the Social Security Administration.

The most difficult part of any disability can be its unpredictability - unlike retirement, it is not really something that can be planned for, which is why these important government benefits exist. Still, it is important to know some basic things about disability benefits to ensure that if and when they might be needed, a person is prepared.

First, as we discussed in our last blog post, there are work requirements to qualify for disability. It is actually the same system that is used for social security retirement benefits, except that the necessary credits change based on the age of the worker.

Second, it is important to understand how the SSA goes about defining a disability, which is required to qualify for benefits. A major key to this is that the illness or injury must be something that is expected to last 12 months or beyond - or lead to an untimely death. This part, in particular, can be a stumbling block in accessing the benefits, although experienced attorneys may be able to help with initial applications as well as appeals.

In addition, a major consideration is how much the disable person and family will receive. Again, work history comes into play and the SSA will use a formula that takes into account inflation and average earnings. A spouse could also be able to obtain disability benefits if that person has reached a certain age - right now, 62 - or is caring for a child under 16. There may also be options for a child to receive benefits directly.

Finally, one last point involves the interaction of disability benefits and retirement benefits offered by the SSA. Thankfully, there is not much to worry about here, as the Administration will simply replace disability benefits with retirement benefits at the appropriate age, and the rate will stay the same.

Understanding some of the basics is important, but for anyone going through the process of applying for benefits, it can be helpful to work with someone familiar with the more intricate workings.

Source: Daily Finance, "4 Things Everyone Must Know About Social Security Disability," Dan Caplinger, Sep. 25, 2014

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