Tag Archives: disability back pay

Does my income affect my child’s ability to qualify for Social Security Benefits?

How much income can parents have before their children no longer qualify for Supplemental Security Income benefits?

Disabled children can qualify for benefits under the Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) program, which is administered by the Social Security Administration, depending: (1) on the nature of their disabilities; (2) on how much income they have (if any); and (3) on their available resources. Children’s “available resources” include the income (and assets) of their parents and guardians. Therefore, many parents and guardians of disabled children wonder how much income they can have before their children no longer qualify for SSI benefits.

The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) defines a child as someone who is not married; is not head of a household; and is under age 18, or is under age 22 and regularly attending school. This discussion only applies to SSI benefits for disabled children, as the SSA defines the terms “disabled” and “children.”

1. Nature of disability. According to the definition established by the applicable laws and regulations, a child is “disabled” if the child “has a medically determinable physical or mental impairment, which results in marked and severe functional limitations, and which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” In other words, a child is disabled for purposes of SSI benefits if the child has a very serious medical condition that will last (or has lasted) for at least one year. For example, a child who suffers from cystic fibrosis could qualify for SSI benefits. A child with a minor broken leg, but who did not otherwise have a serious medical condition, would probably not qualify.

2. Child’s income (if any). In terms of a child’s income, a child may not earn more than $1,000.00 per month from employment and still qualify to receive SSI benefits (in 2011; the limit on a child’s total monthly income changes every year). On the other hand, a child who is unemployed, or who is employed but earns less than $1,000.00 per month (in 2011), would meet the income limit.

3. Income and resources (i.e. assets) of parents or guardians. The determination of a child’s eligibility to receive SSI benefits also takes into account

Income, in this context, comes in two varieties: “earned income” and “unearned income.” Earned income consists of “wages from employment, net earnings from self-employment, certain royalties and honoraria, and sheltered workshop payments.” Unearned income consists of money received from other sources, “such as Social Security benefits, pensions, state disability payments, unemployment benefits, interest income, and cash from friends and relatives.” Some income is exempt and does not count toward the applicable limits. The following chart illustrates the income limits currently applicable in many (but not all) circumstances.

Number of Ineligible Children in Household

All Income is Earned

All Income is Unearned

One Parent in Household

Two Parents in Household

One Parent in Household

Two Parents in Household




































By “resources,” the SSA essentially means property. For instance, resources include bank accounts, cash, life insurance, real estate, stocks, U.S. savings bonds, vehicles and other property belonging to a child’s parents or guardians that could be exchanged for cash and used for food or shelter. Some resources, such as a home, household goods and personal effects, and money in pension funds, are exempt and do not count toward the applicable limits. Currently, the applicable resource limit (for non-exempt resources) is $2,000 for a single parent or guardian, and $3,000.00 for a couple.

To summarize: A disabled child’s eligibility for SSI benefits depends upon the nature of the child’s disability, the amount of income that the child earns (if any), and the income and resources available to the child—including resources available through parents and guardians. Regarding the resources of parents and guardians, the limits vary from case to case depending on the circumstances. The income limits listed in the foregoing chart, and the resource limits discussed above, might or might not apply in a specific situation because of the many rules and regulations, as well as exemptions, that govern SSI eligibility for disabled children. If you are the parent or guardian of a disabled child and would like to learn more about SSI eligibility, then talk with a lawyer with experience dealing with Social Security issues.

Posted in Social Security SSD/SSI | Tagged , | 54 Comments

Can I draw early social security retirement and disability at the same time?

Can I draw early retirement benefits from Social Security and receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits at the same time?

Lately, a number of my clients have asked me whether they can receive early retirement benefits from Social Security and, at the same time, also receive Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) benefits. Believe it or not, the answer is “yes” in many cases.  Suppose that Susan B. Anthony, who is currently 62 years old and lives in Troy, Ohio, worked for 30 years at the Spacely Sprockets factory in Wilmington. She has leukemia, and as a result of her condition, she had to stop working on June 1, 2010. At that time, she did not apply for SSDI benefits. Now that she has reached age 62, she would like to begin drawing early retirement benefits from Social Security. She also wants to apply for SSDI benefits.

Normally, were Susan to elect to draw early retirement benefits, the amount she would receive would be reduced by 25% compared to drawing benefits at full retirement age. For example, if Susan would have received a monthly retirement benefit of $1,000.00 had she retired at age 66 (the full retirement age for someone born in 1949), then her monthly early retirement benefit would be $750.00. If she were married, then her spouse’s benefit would be reduced by 30%. Furthermore, Susan’s monthly benefit would not increase once she reached full retirement age—the 25% reduction would be permanent.

In Susan’s case, however, she stopped working as the result of her disability. Because her disability forced her to stop working before she reached full retirement age (again, Susan is currently 62; her full retirement age would have been 66), Susan could effectively receive her full retirement benefit if her application for SSDI benefits is approved.

Assume that Susan began drawing her early retirement benefits shortly after her 62nd birthday, which was July 1, 2011. She then applied for SSDI benefits. On her application, she listed June 1, 2010, as the date on which her disability began. A decision on an application for SSDI benefits usually takes several months, and can sometimes take longer. Suppose, therefore, that the Social Security Administration approves Susan’s application for SSDI benefits on December 1, 2011, and that it determines that Susan’s disability began on June 1, 2010.

In this scenario, Susan would be paid her SSDI benefits retroactively from January, 2011, through July, 2011—when she started receiving her early retirement benefits. Then, for August, 2011, through December, 2011, Susan would be paid the difference between her early retirement benefit, which she already received, and her full retirement benefit. From December, 2011, onward, Susan would receive SSDI payments in the amount of her full, monthly retirement benefit. Effectively, because Susan’s early retirement was the product of her disability, the Social Security Administration treats her as if she had stopped working at her full retirement age.

Keep in mind that the foregoing example only applies when the Social Security Administration approves an application for SSDI benefits. For instance, had her application for SSDI benefits had been denied, Susan would have received only her reduced, early retirement benefit.

In addition, the amount of Susan’s monthly benefit would also have been different had the Social Security Administration determined that her disability began on a later date. Had the Social Security Administration determined that Susan’s disability began on September 1, 2011, then Susan would be treated as if she retired two months early (i.e. full retirement age less, less two months). In other words, if the date on which Susan’s disability officially began (as determined by the Social Security Administration) came before the date on which she stopped working, then she would be treated as if she had stopped working at her full retirement age. On the other hand, if the date on which her disability officially began came after the date on which she stopped working, then she would be treated as if she had retired early.

Drawing Social Security early retirement benefits and receiving SSDI benefits at the same time is possible. For some, this is the best option. For others, waiting until full retirement age to begin drawing benefits is the best option. If you have questions about early retirement and SSDI benefits please contact the Law Offices of John T. Nicholson at 1-800-596-1533 for a free consultation.

Posted in Social Security SSD/SSI | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Commonly asked Social Security Disability / SSI questions.

There are often basic questions about Social Security Disability benefits, so we have decided to answer just a few of them here.  filingbenefitsclaim

Q 1. What does it cost to hire an attorney for my SSD / SSI claim?

A 1. Nothing. Our firm does all SSD cases on a contingency basis. We take a percentage or pre-determined amount (determined under Statutes) of the back-pay you are awarded. If you are not granted SSD benefits, then we do not collect anything.

Q 2. Is there a difference between SSD and SSI benefits?

A 2. Yes. SSI is usually reserved for those individuals with very low incomes, and/or those that have not worked long enough in order to earn SSD benefits.

Q 3. How do I prove SSD eligibility if I do not have the money to visit a doctor?

A 3. This is one of the hardest issues for SSD applicants. On the one hand they are not working because they are disabled, and therefore, they do not have health insurance that allows them to visit a doctor. On the other hand, it is harder to prove SSD eligibility without documentation from treating physicians. Those that believe that they are eligible for SSD benefits ought to see a doctor as much as they can in order to build the strongest case. However, if you previously worked and had health insurance which allowed you to visit a doctor, we can use those records to prove your case. Check with our office and we will help determine the best course of action you should take.

Q 4. How long does it take to start receiving my benefits?

A 4. This is the hardest part for many applicants to understand. The SS offices are very overworked and any given case can take 1-2 years. However, if you never start the process, you will never receive benefits. it is better to get benefits in 1-2 years than not at all. You need to come into our office ASAP so that we can begin the process on your behalf.

Q 5. Do I have to be completely disabled in order to receive SSD benefits? NO and YES. No, you do not have to be completely disabled in the ordinary sense of that word. Meaning, you do not have to be bed-ridden or need round-the-clock assistance. However, you need to be completely disabled as that term is used in the federal Statutes. The definition in the federal statutes is much more broad and the vast majority of the people who can do normal daily activities are eligible for SSD benefits.

We hope this answers some basic questions for now. We will post more common questions and answers in the near future.  Feel free to contact us through the online contact form or call our office at 937-432-9775 for an appointment to discuss your claim.

Posted in Social Security SSD/SSI | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

What is the Listing of Impairments for purposes of establishing disability?


What is the Listing of Impairments and is it used to establish disability?

The Listing of Impairments, also known as  “The Listings, is set out in Social Security regulations. The listings are in two parts. Part A of the Listing of Impairments contains medical criteria that apply to the evaluation of impairments in adults age 18 and over.  Part B of the Listing of Impairments contains additional medical criteria that apply only to the evaluation of impairments of persons under age 18. The listings are examples of common impairments for each of the major body systems that Social Security considers severe enough to keep an average adult from doing any gainful activity.  See appendix 1 of subpart P of part 404 of Social Security’s regulations for the Listing of Impairments.

The listed impairments are of such a level of severity that Social Security considers a person whose impairment(s) meets or equals the Listing of Impairments to be unable to do any gainful activity, that is, the impairment(s) is expected to result in death, or to last for a specific duration, or the evidence must show that the listed impairment has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months in a row.

Many medical conditions are included in the Social Security Disability List of Impairments (including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, etc). However, keep in mind that you can still qualify for SSD / SSI benefits even if your illness is not listed on the Listing of Impairments.

Posted in Social Security SSD/SSI | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

SSA ruling indicates that focus of disability inquiry should be on capacity to work, not ability to find a job

SSA ruling indicates that focus of disability inquiry should be on capacity to work, not ability to find a job 

SSR 64-47c

need_a_jobThe claimant, a high school graduate who had worked in various capacities in carpentry, including foreman and timekeeper, alleged that he could no longer do such work because of a respiratory impairment. However, extensive medical studies showed that his condition was not severe enough to prevent him from engaging in sedentary or supervisory work.

The examiner at the hearing found that the claimant’s health had improved and that thanks to his high school education, manual skills and previous work experience, the claimant would be capable of being retrained and able to earn a substantial living in radio and television repairs, in supervising construction work, and in other sedentary or semi-sedentary jobs.

The case here went through several twists and turns. First, the man was denied disability in his initial filing. Later, the district court reversed this decision, basing its reversal on the ground that light work of the type that claimant could do, was not available in the area where he lived.

This decision was based, at least in part on the idea that where the claimant lived there was no light work available. The claimant said that jobs such as parking lot attendant, night watchman, or janitor did not exist in his hometown. The district court said that the mere possibility the claimant could do some work was not sufficient to prove that he was capable of gainful employment that was available to him.

The Court of Appeals then reversed the lower court, holding that to be under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, a claimant must be unable to do not only his former work, but also any other substantial gainful work. Moreover, the Court said that when determining whether there is inability to do such other work, the test should be what kinds of work can the claimant perform, not whether such kinds of work are available for the claimant in the vicinity of his residence.

The Court of Appeals said that the Social Security Act is not an unemployment compensation law. The hardship in the case seemed to have more to do with the claimant’s inability to find work rather than his capacity to do work. The Court of Appeals said it would not order such unemployment compensation under the guise of disability benefits.

The Court said that in this case, as in all of disability cases, the claimant must ask the following question: “What jobs are there?” In the context of the Social Security Act, this means what kinds of work can the claimant perform, not what jobs are there available for him in Kosciusko, Mississippi.

If you think you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits and have questions, call The Law Offices of John T. Nicholson at 1-800-596-1533 for a free consultation today.



Posted in Social Security SSD/SSI | Tagged , , , , , , | No comments