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San Diego Social Security Disability Law Blog

Should you apply for SSD or SSI?

Payroll taxes are the main source of funding for Social Security Disability benefits. SSD benefits are available to those who have worked for a certain number of years and have made the necessary contributions to the Social Security trust fund through various taxes. However, the Social Security Administration also administers disability benefits through another program-Supplemental Security Income.

SSI is a means-tested program. Payments are provided to disabled individuals who have few resources and low income, regardless of their work history. California residents who are considering applying for benefits must understand the SSA's strict definition of "disability" and meet it by providing the necessary medical and financial documents.

What happens if your SSD benefits are being reviewed?

Once California residents have finally completed their Social Security Disability benefits applications, submitted them, gotten them approved and begun receiving SSD benefits, they might think their hard work has paid off and they are now at the end of the road. However, the Social Security Administration conducts periodic reviews, ensuring only those people who are disabled receive SSD benefits. News of a review may overwhelm recipients, but most often, there is nothing to worry about.

The SSA conducts two types of continuing disability reviews: full medical reviews and mailers. The SSA uses computer scoring models to identify cases that are less likely to demonstrate medical improvement. Then, questionnaires are sent out to obtain additional information, after which it is determined if further medical reviews are required. A full medical review ends up being more expensive, since there needs to be a new medical evaluation and disability.

Benefits of applying for Social Security Disability

Less than one in three workers in the country have private disability insurance, which means that if they sustain an injury that prevents them from working they may have no means of assistance. Social Security Disability Insurance is the one safety net that more than 155 million workers rely on, as they are insured through their payroll or FICA taxes.

While California residents may only think of severe injuries from preventing someone from working, the reality is that arthritis, strokes, diabetes and heart diseases are also common reasons why people are unable to continue working. As a result, people apply for disability benefits not just for themselves and their medical treatment, but also for their family members. If approved, individuals can get valuable income to support their households while they recover from their condition. Some conditions require extensive medical treatment to achieve stability to begin working again. SSD becomes essential financial support to get through the difficult times.

The right approach to getting SSD applications approved

Not only is it frustrating to not be able to work and continue to remain financially independent, it is also economically devastating. It can also be life threatening when people who need to purchase medicines and get medical treatment are unable to do so because they do not have the financial means to do so. At times like these, Social Security Disability benefits can become the safety net that prevents California residents from falling. Therefore, it can be worrisome when these benefits either do not materialize at all or do not become available on time.

Although the application for SSD benefits may look straightforward on its face, and collecting the medical evidence easy enough, the application process can be needlessly delayed if even one document or pertinent piece of information is missing. Unfortunately, not everyone knows what is important and what is not in the application process for SSD benefits.

Are SSD benefits taxable?

Although it is perhaps our nation's most important social program, most people, including those who live in California, probably know very little about Social Security benefits, especially SSD benefits. Therefore, it may come as a surprise to them that more than 62 million people receive a guaranteed payout from the Social Security Administration monthly, of which more than 20 million rely on these benefits to keep them out of poverty. Additionally, 175 millions workers are covered by this security net in case they die untimely or are severely injured.

One of the main issues many people do not realize is that it is possible that Social Security Disability benefits are subject to taxes. Although the majority of SSD and SSI benefits are not taxable, if either the beneficiary or their spouse has another substantial source of income, they may likely end up getting taxed on their benefits.

The basics about Social Security Disability benefits

When California residents imagine their old age, very few imagine they would become disabled or unable to work due to a chronic illness. However, one in four of people currently in their twenties is likely to become disabled before they reach the age of 67, according to the Social Security Administration. Since it is a real possibility, preparing for it is very important. One way to prepare is to know the basics about Social Security Disability benefits.

To qualify for SSD benefits, a person must be disabled according to the SSA's definition of "disability." The definition is a strict one and requires that the individual have a physical or mental impairment that is expected to last for 12 months or more, even resulting in death. The disability must be such that it prevents the disabled person from performing "substantial gainful activity." This means it must prevent the person from performing work-related activities. The SSA has a list of impairments it considers serious. If a person's ailment is on the list, that individual will automatically qualify for benefits. If not, then the SSA must evaluate the situation.

Meeting the definition of disability for Social Security benefits

Everyday injuries and illnesses can prevent San Diego residents from getting out of bed and getting to their places of employment. When these transient ailments attack, individuals may have to take a day or two off of work so that they can recuperate and come back feeling ready to accomplish their tasks. While short-term physical harm can be detrimental to a person's career, it generally will not disrupt their ability to earn an income for more than a few days.

However, serious injuries and illnesses can force individuals out of their jobs indefinitely. The treatment that a person may have to undertake to improve their health may stop them from working and contributing to the success of their home lives. Without the ability to work, a person may not have an opportunity to support themselves with their own income.

Does workers' compensation affect SSD benefits?

California residents who are injured in a work-related accident may be unable to return to work right away. If workers are disabled, as per the Social Security Administration's definition of the term, they might be able to file and collect SSD benefits for their disabling condition. But what happens if the injured individual is also collecting workers' compensation? Does one type of benefit affect the other?

Although disability payments from a private source, such as insurance or retirement benefits, don't affect SSD benefits, workers' compensation benefits could reduce them. This is because workers' comp is paid from federal or state workers' compensation agencies or by insurance companies for the employers. Similarly, civil service disability benefits, and state or local government retirement benefits, may also affect SSD benefits. On the other hand, Veteran's Administration's benefits and SSI do not reduce SSD benefits.

Improving an SSD application

A previous post here mentioned that there are certain ways to improve a Social Security Disability application to get it accepted on the first try. Although there is no way to guarantee that an application does not become one of the 66 percent of SSD applications that is rejected on the first instance, ensuring that paperwork is in order and evidence is in place can go a long way in getting an application approved.

At first glance, it might seem like a simple process: fill out the application, gather the necessary paperwork, send out the papers and wait for the decision. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. The application itself is complicated for many people suffering from cognitive issues to understand and physical ailments from filling out. The very issues for which they are seeking SSD benefits might prevent them from filling out an accurate application.

Is there a way to improve an SSD application?

Although it is not possible to guarantee the success of a first time Social Security Disability application, there are certain steps California residents can take to attempt to improve the chances of their application getting accepted on the first try. Those who are applying are probably aware that they are facing daunting waiting times with dwindling resources for SSD benefits and that initial applications are more than 70 percent likely to be rejected on the first instance.

Many people plan on applying online, but this should not deter them from printing out the application and filling it out on paper at first. This can give them an opportunity to get familiar with the questions and gather all the information they may not have immediately ready. This way, when they go online, they do not need to halt the process every time they need to collect additional information. Having the medical records ready is not only a good idea, but a necessary one. Not only does an applicant need to answer questions related to their condition, they also either need to provide those documents to the Social Security Administration or give them permission to access them.