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SSD recipients earned their benefits

Benefit programs such as Social Security Disability (SSD) have recently become the subject of political debate. Exactly how these programs operate may have been lost in the media coverage and finger-pointing.

Here's how it works: Eligible employees who pay into the Social Security system earn credits - up to four per year. To receive SSD, they must have 40 credits, half of which were earned in the 10 years before becoming disabled. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.

In short, SSD is a kind of insurance program. The deductions from each pay check are akin to premium payments. If a worker becomes disabled before becoming eligible for Medicare and can no longer work, SSD provides benefits that average around $1,000 per month as of August, 2012. Of course, the precise amount varies depending on the recipient's age and the nature of the disability.

The story of Sandra Johnson, of Camden New Jersey, illustrates how SSD is supposed to work. Ms. Johnson receives SSD benefits and food stamps. She says, "I worked and I earned it. I paid in enough years to get these benefits."

Many beneficiaries, including Sandra Johnson, continue to work at reduced levels even after starting SSD benefits. For many years a preschool teacher and day care provider, she applied for SSD after her arthritis prevented her from keeping up with small children and she experienced a recurrence of breast cancer. However, in addition to her $990 monthly SSD payment, she earns around $500 per month working part-time at a non-profit that helps young adults who have dropped out of high school.

"I consider myself a working person," Johnson said. "I am still working, helping these young people get where they need to go."

If you have become disabled after paying into the Social Security system, do what many others have done and obtain help from an advocate such as those at Binder & Binder®, the National Social Security Disability Advocates. Learn about your eligibility for SSD.

Source: Huffington Post, "47 Percenter: Mitt Romney 'Eliminated Us Altogether'," Sep. 19, 2012

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