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If you become so severely disabled that you can no longer work and if you are granted Social Security disability benefits, you may wonder if you have to do anything to keep those benefits. The general rule of thumb is that if you remain disabled to the point you cannot work, you are entitled to disability benefits until you reach retirement age. Your benefits will not stop coming at retirement age. Instead, you will no longer receive “disability” benefits but rather “retirement” benefits. The name changes, but the benefits do not.
Under political attack as a black hole in the budget, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is working hard to improve its image. Acknowledging the long wait disabled people must put up with, the SSA is opening new offices and hiring more case evaluators. That’s wonderful news for those who are seeking a hearing.
It has never been easy to be approved for Social Security disability benefits. The disability application process is complicated and cumbersome, and the lag time between filing a claim and being granted or denied disability benefits is notoriously long. In the current economy, where more and more people are losing their jobs and their health benefits, the process can be even more difficult.
While those who lead the charge in advocating cuts to Social Security’s benefits programs, including Social Security disability benefits, insist that cutting these programs will help balance the budget, others disagree. Intent on preserving the system, Social Security advocates say that proposed cuts to the system will have little or no effect on the budget or the deficit.
In a political atmosphere in which the elderly and disabled may be asked to accept cuts in their benefits, there seems to be little patience for the assertion that the benefits being paid are too small. However, the National Alliance on Mental Illness has recently done just that, pointing out that SSI income to the mentally ill (and, by extension, other severely disabled people looking to that program for assistance) barely covers housing expenses.
Many people currently receiving SSI or SSDI disability benefits from the Social Security Administration would go back to work if they could find a job that could accommodate their disability. In 1999, Congress passed legislation designed to aid these job seekers in returning to work by establishing the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999.
People with disabled children need extra income. Although they may be receiving aid from Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), there’s never enough to go around. With some medications costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month, and with Social Security’s benefits being based on income, the idea of helping your disabled teen achieve a work or education goal may seem impossible.
If you are disabled and unable to work, you may have heard both good and bad things about Social Security’s disability benefits. The first thing you should know is that if you are an American citizen who has worked and paid taxes in this country, you have been making Social Security insurance payments with every paycheck. Assuming you have worked long enough to qualify for disability benefits and if you are disabled to the point that you can no longer work, you are entitled to Social Security disability benefits.