Today’s post comes from guest author Barbara Tilker, from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano. Please call our office if you have any questions about applying for SSDI in Nebraska. Our firm knows how SSDI claims interact with workers’ compensation claims and other employment laws.
Filing for Social Security Disability (SSD) can be a lengthy process. Every case is different, and some are processed faster than others. However, we’ve found that it takes the Social Security Administration (SSA) between four (4) to six (6) months to make an initial decision. If that decision is unfavorable (and about 70% of initial decisions are denials), it can take between eight (8) to twelve (12) months to have a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) scheduled. A year to a year-and-a-half wait is not uncommon.
You should file as soon as you know that you will be out of work for at least twelve (12) straight months OR if your condition is expected to result in death.
Due to the lengthy process, you should file for SSD as soon as possible. You should file as soon as you know that you will be out of work for at least twelve (12) straight months OR if your condition is expected to result in death. If you will not be out of work that long, you should not apply for SSD, unless your condition is expected to result in death. You should talk to y our doctor to see how long he/she expects you to be unable to work. Your doctor’s support is incredibly important to your case – something we’ll talk more about in the future – so talk to him/her before making the decision to apply.
In order to make sure that you get the maximum amount of benefits you’re entitled to, your application must be filed within 17 full months from the time that you become disabled and unable to work. If you’ve already been out of work for a year or more, consider putting in an application right away to prevent any loss of benefits you would otherwise be entitled to.
Once you’ve spoken to your doctor and made the decision to apply, contact our office to schedule an appointment.
Social Security disability benefits are subject to an offset, or reduction, when paid to a claimant who is also receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Technically, the reduction applies if the total of the two benefits exceeds 80 percent of the worker’s “average current earnings” or ACE. The worker’s ACE is calculated as the largest of three averages:
average monthly wage used for purposes of computing Social Security benefits;
1/60 of the total wages for five consecutive calendar years for which such wages were the highest; or
1/12 of the total wages for the calendar year in which the worker had the highest such wages during the period consisting of the calendar year in which he or she became disabled and the five consecutive calendar years preceding that year. Clearly this is not a simple calculation that most workers can undertake.
In most instances, when a worker is receiving temporary or permanent total disability payments, they will not be entitled to receive any disability pay from the Social Security Administration. When a worker is receiving permanent partial disability payments, they likely will be entitled to receive at least a portion of their SSA disability pay. In many cases, settling a workers’ compensation case can increase the monthly SSA disability benefit.
At any rate, the most important thing a worker who is entitled to receive both workers’ compensation and SSA disability benefits can do is report the amount of his workers’ compensation benefits to the Social Security Administration, in writing if possible. Failure to do so can result in an overpayment that may not be uncovered until years later and may be thousands of dollars. However, the reporting of these benefits doesn’t ensure the SSA will make the proper adjustment to your SSA monthly benefit. As such, it’s important to follow up with the SSA once you have reported your benefit amount to ensure they adjust your SSA benefit to account for this. This will help ensure an overpayment is not found years later.
What can I do if the Social Security Administration (SSA) says I have been overpaid disability benefits?
This is a very common problem, unfortunately. There are a number of factors that cause these issues to come up so frequently.
First, the rules about how much one can make differ, depending on what type of disability benefit is received. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recipients can earn over $1,000 per month without jeopardizing their monthly benefit. But almost every dollar earned by Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients can affect the amount of their monthly benefit, as this benefit is partially based upon a recipient’s financial situation. These amounts can change over time.
Second, there are many different rules about when you can earn money from working above what is called the substantial gainful employment level and not jeopardize your continued entitlement to disability benefit. It’s difficult to summarize all of the circumstances, yet alone know all of the rules, for a claimant. What’s more, simply providing the SSA your wages doesn’t absolve you from having to repay overpayments. The SSA doesn’t look at this information on a regular basis. Years later, you may get a “Dear John” letter advising you that you were overpaid thousands of dollars.
Finally, you may simply get wrong or bad information from someone when you meet with or speak with the SSA. It’s important to document when you spoke with the person and who that person was. If possible, get them to put their advice in writing.
When faced with an overpayment, there are two things you should always do. First, Continue reading →
Having physical or mental impairment will not automatically make you entitled to Social Security Disability benefits.
Many people believe that if they suffer from a physical and/or mental impairment and can’t find work, this means they should be on Social Security Disability. This simply isn’t true.
Disability is not necessarily tied to your ability to obtain work, or your inability to perform one main occupation. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will review your employability not just in your immediate locality, but also in the state and region in which you live.
While only employment opportunities in your immediate areas are considered for workers’ compensation, the same is not true for social security disability. If you are unable to find work in your immediate area, the SSA requires you to move to a locality where a job exists. Note that the SSA’s responsibility doesn’t include having to find you employment, but only to establish that you are physically and mentally capable of performing that job if a position became available.
Additionally, your inability to perform the work you’ve done for years or decades does not automatically qualify you for disability. The SSA will consider skills you’ve acquired from your work life in determining whether those skills allow you to “transfer” to or perform other occupations. It’s important to also remember that the SSA isn’t really concerned with how much those other occupations may pay. If you can work full-time in a position that is available in your state and region, this will normally disqualify you from receiving disability.
The conditions which the SSA imposes upon a claimant are unfortunately, not always feasible or fair. Nevertheless, as it is the current state of the law, compliance is required.