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Four Things to Know About SSD

An article on the website provides easy-to-understand details about some relatively obscure but very important topics about Social Security Disability (SSD). SSD is a federal program that provides almost 11 million disabled people and their families with benefits when they can no longer work.

The remainder of this blog post summarizes the answers to the important questions about SSD that were the subject of this article.

Q. How long do I have to work to qualify for SSD benefits?

A. Like Social Security retirement, eligibility for SSD benefits requires recipients to have worked a certain length of time in order to qualify. Every $1,200 in wages that you earn counts as one credit, and you can accumulate up to four credits per year. The credits that you accumulate determine your eligibility.

Unlike Social Security retirement, the number of credits you need to be eligible for SSD benefits depends on your age when you become unable to work because of your disability. If you are 62 or older, you will need 40 credits, 20 of which must have been earned in the 10 years before you became disabled.

If you are under age 62, the number of credits required decreases by two for every two years you are under age 62. This means that if you are between ages 31 and 42, you will need 20 credits to be eligible for SSD. If you are under age 31, you will need credits for half the time between age 21 and the year you became disabled. If you are under age 24, you will need a minimum of six credits

Q. How does Social Security Disability define disability?

A. Social Security has a very strict definition of disability, unlike many private disability insurance policies. You must be totally disabled - there is no such thing as partial disability when it comes to SSD benefits. Your disability must be expected to last one year or longer or result in death. In addition, you must be unable to work, not only at your new job but also be unable to take on a new type of work. They must consider your age, education and past relevant work in assessing whether there are other jobs you can do. No wonder Social Security denies so many initial applications - it's a very high standard.

Q. How much will I receive in SSD benefits if I am approved?

A. The amount you receive depends on your work history. The program looks at your average earnings indexed for inflation as a basis for calculating disability benefits. The formula used to calculate benefits incorporates the number of quarters you worked. Under certain circumstances, your spouse may also be eligible for benefits. If he or she is age 62 or is caring for a child under age 16, spousal benefits kick in. Children under age 18 can also receive benefits, as can children age 18 or 19 who are still in high school. There is an overall benefit maximum that applies when you reach a certain threshold; the amount changes periodically.

Q. Will my retirement benefits be affected if I take SSD benefits?

A. Unlike many private disability insurance benefits, government disability benefits don't stop when you reach retirement age. However, they do shift, from SSD to retirement benefits. The Social Security Administration does not calculate retirements benefits for people already receiving SSD the same way it does for those receiving retirement benefits. Rather, it will continue paying the same amount that you received when getting SSD benefits. In the vast majority of cases, there will be no reduction in benefits when switching from SSD to retirement benefits.

If you have applied for Social Security Disability benefits and have encountered problems, do what so many people like you have done: Contact Binder & Binder®, America's most successful Social Security Disability advocates, from anywhere in the United States and find out what they can do to help.

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