Guide for Caregivers For Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits On Behalf of Their Loved Ones

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Being a caregiver for a loved one with a disability can be challenging. If you are the primary caregiver for a loved one and they can no longer work, then they may be able to qualify for disability benefits and you as a caregiver are able to apply on their behalf. Here is a guide for applying for disability benefits on behalf of a loved one.

What is a Caregiver?

A caregiver is a person who tends to the needs or concerns of a person with short or long term limitations due to illness, injury or disability. Family caregivers are members of the family who choose to care for a loved one. These caregivers may be children, spouses, or other family members. Caregivers have many responsibilities including:

  • understanding any new medical information in relation to the family members disability;
  • learning medical terminology;
  • being prepared to provide prescribed treatment;
  • finding adequate time to take the family member to medical appointments;
  • completing the family member’s administrative tasks such as paying bills;
  • performing daily tasks like cooking, cleaning, and shopping;
  • providing companionship.

How to Get Paid as a Caregiver

The SSA will not pay you directly for being a caregiver for disabled adults. However a caregiver could still get paid for taking care of a loved one. There are many government programs that allow family members of people with disabilities to get paid for caring for them. One program is called Medicaid Self-Directed Care. This is an alternative to traditionally delivered and managed services. It gives individuals the responsibility for managing all aspects of service delivery that they require.

You, or your caregiver, decide who will provide the services you need. You need to keep a detailed record of the services provided so that they can be paid by the Medicaid program. A supports counselor is delegated the responsibility for assisting you with accessing your services and communicates on your behalf between you and the Medicaid program. One typical example is the personal care service provided in your home.

Twelve states provide state funded programs which pay pay any relatives, including spouses, parents of minor children, and other legally responsible relatives to cover for a family member with a disability in the home. These are:

  • Colorado,
  • Kentucky,
  • Maine,
  • Minnesota,
  • New Hampshire,
  • New Jersey,
  • North Dakota,
  • Oregon,
  • Texas,
  • Utah,
  • Vermont,
  • Wisconsin.

What to Include in a Disability Application

As a caregiver you can take on the responsibility for submitting a claim for disability benefits for the family member you care for everyday. However, to help ensure the initial application is successful you need to provide the Social Security Administration (SSA) with as much evidence as you can to show that your family member is unable to work for at least 12 months: This includes the following:

  • a physician’s report with diagnosis and treatment plan;
  • names of medicines you are taking and who prescribed them;
  • names and dates of medical tests you have had and who ordered them;
  • results of tests, x-rays and scans confirming the diagnosis;
  • names, addresses, phone numbers, patient ID numbers, and treatment for all doctors, hospitals, and medical clinics;
  • proof that the disability is listed in the SSA Blue Book;
  • the results of a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) test if required.   

You will also be asked to provide the following about your family member:

  • the place and date of your birth;
  • social security number;
  • the name, social security number, and date of birth of his or her spouse and any former spouse (if applicable);
  • names and dates of birth of children who have not reached 18 years of age;
  • your bank or other financial institution's routing transit number and the account number.

The SSA will want you to provide information about your family members work and income. This includes the name and address of employer(s) for this year and last year, the start and finish dates of any active U.S. military service before 1968, a list of the jobs (up to 5) including dates that your family member had in the 15 years before being unable to work and information about any workers' compensation received.

How to Spend Your Loved One’s Disability Benefits

If you are the primary caretaker, you may have financial responsibility to manage your loved one’s disability benefits. You can spend that money on medical bills and treatment related to their disability, medical prescriptions, and basic day to day needs like gas and groceries. If there is any money left over after meeting the family member’s current needs and some discretionary spending, it must be saved for the family member in a separate bank account. The care giver is not allowed to take any money for services provided from the monthly disability benefit.

How to Start the Disability Application

The disability application is entirely online. Make sure that you have all of your loved one’s paperwork and medical records in order before applying. If you have further questions, you can call the SSA toll free at 1-800-772-1213.

Get a Free Case Evaluation Today

You can use the form on this page to get connected with an independent, participating attorney who subscribes to the website and takes cases in your area. You may have a far higher chance of winning a disability benefits claim for your family member if you request a disability attorney helps you with the application. An attorney may ensure the application includes all the required documentation to support the disability benefits application.

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