Understanding Social Security Benefits Including Social Security Disability Requirements
Before 1935, it was a family’s duty to care for its old and disabled loved ones. But if there was no family, or no willing family, old and disabled people were left to eke out an impoverished existence that may have included begging and that always included working, however unproductively, until they died.
As part of the New Deal, Congress passed and then President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act in 1935. It conferred monetary benefits upon old and disabled Americans who had little recourse other than to give younger or healthier relatives –many of whom were struggling to find work — an extra mouth to feed.
Today when people think of Social Security, most think mainly of Social Security retirement benefits. But the Social Security Administration is more than a repository for retirement funds. To prevent undeserved poverty, it also pays benefits to the disabled and to surviving spouses and the minor children of productive Americans who didn’t live long enough to collect benefits themselves.
Who May Collect Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security disability requirements are based on the recipient’s work history, rather than need. They are permanent benefits for the permanently disabled; however, the Social Security Administration periodically reviews cases to ensure that those who collect are indeed still disabled. Also, the severity of the disability does not affect the amount a beneficiary collects. Neither does private disability insurance affect the amount a recipient may collect.
With the Social Security Administration’s system of work credits, the amount a recipient collects is based only upon the length of time that the beneficiary worked and his lifetime earnings. By itself, age also does not affect whether someone may collect Social Security Disability benefits. Rather, conforming with Social Security disability requirements determines whether one receives benefits. Work credits, one of the requirements, accrue from the time a worker begins to work for money out of which Social Security is paid.
In all cases, the disabled party may not collect benefits until after five months has elapsed. This prevents people with curable, temporary illnesses from tapping the system. Worker’s Compensation and private resources usually cover the first five months. But once an illness or injury prevents people from working for more than five months, they may begin to collect Social Security Disability Income, or SSDI. In any case, the Social Security Administration advises prospective recipients to apply for Social Security disability as soon as they become disabled.
Social Security Disability Requirements
The Social Security Administration expects SSDI applicants to meet two broad types of Social Security disability requirements in order to collect: medical and non-medical requirements.
Non-Medical Social Security Disability Requirements Include:
- Proof of age
- Proof of employment
- Proof of marital status
- Social Security card or records
Medically-Related Social Security Disability Requirements Include:
- Names and contact information of doctors, caseworkers, hospitals and clinics
- Dates of your doctor, hospital, clinic and caseworker visits
- Names and dosage of your medications
- Medical records
- Laboratory and test results
- A summary of where you worked and the work you did
- Signed permission forms to access your medical information
Family Benefits for the Disabled
To offset lost income, the family members of a disabled beneficiary may also collect benefits. A dependent family member who qualifies may be able to collect up to 50 percent of the beneficiary’s disability rate. However, the total additional benefits for any one family does not usually exceed an additional 80 percent of the disabled’s benefit amount.
To receive benefits for family members, the Social Security Disability requirements include proof of their Social Security numbers, their birth certificates, and for a spouse or ex-spouse, proof of marriage. In some cases, ex-spouses may also draw Social Security disability benefits. If so, the amount that the disabled’s children and current spouse may collect is not affected.