Category : Social Security Facts
Q: My spouse of 33 years passed away recently. I have been disabled for many years and have not been able to work. Am I eligible for disability benefits based on my husband’s Account?
A: Yes, you are. Social Security has very specific rules for payment of disabled widow or widower’s benefits. These same rules apply to surviving divorced spouses as well. The surviving spouse must be between the ages of 50 and 60 years old; you condition must meet Social Security’s definition of disability for adults; and, your disability must have started within 7 years of your spouse’s death.
You can speak directly with the Social Security Administration and have them assist you with filing an application for widow or widower’s benefits. You should contact the Social Security Administration as soon as possible to make sure you qualify for benefits and you have filed in a timely manner. You must contact Social Security by phone or in person. They do not take online applications for disabled widow/widower benefits.
Philip H. Garrow
Attorney at Law
Practice Limited to Workers’ Compensation Cases and Social Disability/SSI Claims
Q: I am disabled and recently began to receive Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits. I heard that Social Security will increase benefit amounts for retirees. Will this affect my benefits also?
A: Social Security annually makes a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), this year beginning January 2018 for all Social Security (retirement and disability) beneficiaries and on December 29 for all SSI (Supplemental Security Income) recipients. This year the cost-of-living adjustment is a 2% increase. The average disability benefit will be increased by about $24 per month. If your benefit amount is $1,500 per month, you will receive a $30 per month increase. For SSI recipients, the Federal SSI maximum will increase to $750 per month and $1,125 per month for families.
Also increasing will be the maximum amount of wage earnings subject to the Social Security tax, from $127,200 per year to $128,700 per year. Social Security believes this increase will affect about 12 million of the estimated 175 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2018. If you have any additional questions, look at the ssa.gov website. Medicare premiums information for 2018 is available at the Medicare website.
Philip H. Garrow
Attorney at Law
Practice Limited to Workers’ Compensation Cases and Social Security Disability/SSI Claims
The Social Security Retirement program is the result of a bill enacted by Congress in 1935, 80 years ago this year. In 1956 the Disability program was added, initially only for workers aged 50-64. FICA taxes fund both programs. There are separate Trust Funds for both programs, though there have been frequent transfers of funds between the Disability and Retirement Funds over the years. You may have heard about the possible insolvency of either the Disability Fund or the Retirement Fund, or both, if changes are not made soon. The rumors are true. If Congress doesn’t act, both funds could run out of money, despite the fact that nearly every working person in the United States continues to pay into the funds. Just recently the House of Representatives passed a law that restricts the transfer of money between the Disability and Retirement Funds – despite nearly universal opposition from Social Security advocacy groups. The bill insures that the Disability Fund will run out of money, as soon as next year! Hopefully, that bill will not become law. The Social Security solvency problems are fixable and many smart people, including those in the Social Security Administration, have proposed solutions, some of which are quite simple. It will take political will, and an act of Congress, to put the ideas to work. We all know that waiting for Congress to do something can be very frustrating, but that is the answer to this dilemma. Ask your Congressman and Senators what they are doing to avert the Social Security Funding crisis. Tell them to do something now.
If you have questions regarding your Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDIB) claim or your Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) claim, please contact the law office of Philip H. Garrow at 541-382-3736.
Many people aged 62 or older apply for early Social Security retirement benefits, particularly if they are unable to work or find a job. However, what they may not know is that if you opt for early retirement, and then apply for Social Security Disability, the disability benefit will be permanently reduced because of the early retirement. The amount of the reduction depends on how long the person has been receiving the early retirement benefit. This is not a widely known rule and Social Security personnel may not advise a person applying for early retirement of the potential adverse effect of their decision. If you are considering early retirement, it may also be best to apply for disability at the same time (if appropriate) to be sure you receive the maximum benefit. If you have questions or need help with your claim contact my office for assistance.
If you are disabled worker age 62 or above, you may be able to reduce the SSA disability offset. Ordinarily, injured workers who receive both workers’ compensation disability benefits and Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits have their benefits reduced by application of the Social Security offset law. However, workers who have the option of receiving early retirement, can elect to temporarily switch from receiving Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits to early retirement to eliminate the offset and receive full benefits. Once the workers’ compensation claim has been settled, you can switch back to your regular disability benefit. For questions and help contact Philip H. Garrow, Attorney, at 541-382-3736
What impact has the down economy had on Social Security Disability applications? While there has been an increase in disability applications in the last several years, recent research suggestions people do not apply for disability at a greater rate when the unemployment rate is high. Applications for younger individuals (those 45 years old and under) do increase some, but disability applications for older individuals (those over 60) generally do not. Analysts suggest that declining health as persons age is a more important factor in disability applications than the economy. If you have questions or need help with a denied claim, contact our law office for assistance.
Injured workers who have been (or are expected to be) totally disabled for at least 12 months may also be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. If so, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will apply an “offset” to most worker’s disability benefit. SSA applies a formula based on your “average current earnings” (ACE) which is generally your average monthly wages in the 3 years prior to your disability. SSA then calculates 80% of your ACE, which is the maximum you can receive in combined monthly social security and workers compensation benefits. This offset can also affect lump sum settlements. It is important to understand the relationship between Social Security and Workers’ Compensation benefits to make sure you are receiving the maximum amount. If you have questions check with your local SSA office, or contact Philip H. Garrow for a free case evaluation and explanation.
Generally, Social Security Disability benefits may be garnished for certain debts, such as child support or spousal support obligations, unpaid federal taxes or debts to federal agencies, including Social Security. However, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits may NOT be garnished. If you are having a problem with garnishment of your disability benefits, contact your local Social Security office. If you have questions about disability, SSDI or SSI benefits, contact Philip H. Garrow, Attorney for help with your case.
The Social Security Administration recently announced reduced hours at all it’s field offices. Effective, November 19, 2012, the Bend, Oregon office will be open from 9am-3pm daily. Beginning on January 2, 2013, the office will close at 12 noon on Wednesdays only. Social Security attributes the changes to a need to reduce the agency’s overtime costs. New signs will be posted at the office soon. Contact the local office if you have questions or go on-line at socialsecurity.gov.
If you have questions or need help with your Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDIB) claim or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim, contact our office.
The Social Security Administration recently announce the cost-of-living increase for 2013 at 1.7%. As a result,
– Monthly benefits for disabled and retired persons will rise by 1.7%.
– The maximum Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit has increased to$710 for an individual and $1,066 for an a married couple.
-The monthly amount of earnings deemed to be “substantial gainful activity” (for non-blind disabled persons) is $1,040.
-The monthly earning threshold for a “trial work period” for persons receiving SSDIB (disability benefits) is $750.
For additional information, contact the Social Security Administration, or go on-line at ssa.gov. If you have questions about applying for Social Security Disability or SSI please contact our office.