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The Importance of Social Media in Social Security Disability Claims
Before the advent of the Internet, investigators had a much harder job. Collecting information, verifying statements and making sure everything added up is a lot more difficult without the help of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networking services. The rise of these websites has encouraged people to post a plethora of personal information about themselves online for anyone to access. It’s important to understand that friends and family are not the only people taking notice. While this information is primarily useful in the personal injury context, it can be equally valuable when it comes to Social Security Disability claims.
Disability benefits exist to offer support due to those unable to work due to a debilitating condition. Would a quick look through your social media profiles indicate that you deserve such benefits? Better hope so, because it could spell disaster for your case if you’re claiming a terrible back injury yet have pictures plastered across Facebook of your recent tango lessons or bungee jumping adventure.
Investigators and judges use social networking websites and could conceivably check up on what you’ve been doing while you’re claiming injury. And it’s not just your profile that could cause problems, being tagged in a photograph by a friend who does not have privacy settings on a Facebook page can also spell trouble. While this article should not be read as encouraging deception, disabled parties should be aware that anything posted online is not 100% private.
The following are some suggested steps for ensuring that your online footprint remains as small and as private as possible.
1. Immediately make your profile “private,” and set all privacy settings to the highest level.
2. Remember to not discuss your accident, injuries or treatment, including any prescribed medication, on ANY social networking sites.
3. Avoid discussing recent activities you’ve engaged in, physical exertion, abilities and limitations, or any other information that may bear on what you can and cannot do because of your condition.
4. Be sure you know everyone who is your “friend.” Do not accept friend requests from people you do not personally know.
5. Review your friend list and block anyone you are not 100% sure you trust. Investigators could pose as a friend or get information from others who are to gain access to potentially incriminating information that could negatively affect your claim.
If you think you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits or have questions, call The Law Offices of John T. Nicholson at 1-800-596-1533 for a free consultation today.
Collecting Disability While On The Job
Many people mistakenly believe that if you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits you have to be totally unable to work. That is not the case and it is possible to be gainfully employed and still receive some SSI disability benefits. The Social Security Administration applies a very precise formula to determine how additional income affects SSI disability benefits.
The first thing that the SSA does in calculating how work will reduce your SSI disability benefits is to disregard the first $65 of income that you receive in a given month. That threshold of income is bumped up to $85 if you do not have any other income. Next, your disability benefits are reduced $1 for every $2 of income you receive in a given month.
For example, in 2012, if you receive $250.00 a month in income and that is your only income, the Administration will calculate your benefits as follows.
• $250.00 – $85.00 = $165.00. This means that only $165.00 of your monthly income will figure into the calculation for reducing your benefits.
• $165.00 ÷ 2 = $82.50. This means that $82.50 will be reduced from your monthly benefits from the SSA.
• If you receive the maximum amount of $698.00 (subject to COLA increases each year) per month, your new benefit amount for the month will be $698.00 – $82.50, for a total of $615.50 per month.
If you require the use of additional items to help you work, the costs of those items can be deducted from your monthly income if: (1) you have paid for the items yourself; (2) you will not be reimbursed by your employer for those expenses; (3) you can provide the Administration with proof of payment; and (4) the Administration approves your expense. The Administration calls these items “impairment-related work expenses” and they are deducted before the Administration reduces the benefit amount by $1 for every $2 in earned income.
Blind disability benefit recipients can also receive special deductions for any of their work related expenses. The SSA calls these expenses blind work expenses. These are deducted after the monthly benefits are reduced.
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.
How much will your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) checks pay each month? Well, it varies as some states award additional income to the base amounts listed below. That being said, here are the amounts for 2012. Keep in mind that these amounts change each year in conjunction with the cost of living adjustment (COLA).
Social Security Administration SSI payout amounts for 2012:
|Recipient||Unrounded annual amounts for—||Monthly amounts for 2012|
|a The unrounded amounts for 2012 equal the unrounded amounts for 2011 increased by 3.6 percent.|
Remember, these payouts are lowered depending on your countable income each year. If you are thinking of applying for disability benefits click for a free consultation or call 1-800-596-1533.
It is tax time and I have been getting quite a few questions regarding past clients and their responsibility to pay taxes on their social security benefit checks.
Well, the rule is clear. You will have to pay federal taxes on your Social Security benefits if you file a federal tax return as an individual and your total income is more than $25,000. If you file a joint return, you will have to pay taxes if you and your spouse have a total income of more than $32,000. (see SSA.GOV)
What does this mean for the ordinary person receiving SSI / SSDI benefits? Well it all depends on whether you have other substantial income. This is what the Social Security Administrations has to say about taxes and SSD Benefits:
Some people have to pay federal income taxes on their Social Security benefits. This usually happens only if you have other substantial income (such as wages, self-employment, interest, dividends and other taxable income that must be reported on your tax return) in addition to your benefits.
No one pays federal income tax on more than 85 percent of his or her Social Security benefits based on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules. If you:
- file a federal tax return as an “individual” and yourcombined income* is
- between $25,000 and $34,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits.
- more than $34,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.
- file a joint return, and you and your spouse have acombined income* that is
- between $32,000 and $44,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits
- more than $44,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.
- are married and file a separate tax return, you probably will pay taxes on your benefits.
If you do have to pay taxes on your Social Security benefits, you can make quarterly estimated tax payments to the IRS or choose to have federal taxes withheld from your benefits.Each January you will receive a Social Security Benefit Statement(Form SSA-1099) showing the amount of benefits you received in the previous year. You can use this Benefit Statement when you complete your federal income tax return to find out if your benefits are subject to tax.
Can I receive Medicare or Medicaid benefits at the same time as I receive Social Security disability benefits?
Attorneys such as John T. Nicholson who practice Social Security law often hear questions about whether someone could receive Social Security disability benefits at the same time as Medicare or Medicaid benefits. In general, someone who satisfies all of the relevant eligibility requirements can receive Social Security disability benefits and Medicare or Medicaid at the same time. Whether anyone in particular could receive these benefits, however, would depend upon the specific circumstances.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) has administrative responsibility for Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare is
a national health insurance program serving U.S. citizens (and permanent residents) who have reached at least age 65, as well those younger than 65 who have certain disabilities, permanent kidney failure or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (“ALS,” commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). Medicare comes in four types.
1. Part A (hospital insurance). Medicare Part A helps to pay for the cost of inpatient care in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities—including care in critical access hospitals, but excluding custodial and long-term care in nursing facilities. Although the other types of Medicare usually require payment of a monthly premium, payroll taxes and self-employment taxes cover premiums for Medicare Part A in most cases.
2. Part B (medical insurance). Medicare Part B helps to pay for the cost of doctors’ services and outpatient care; in addition, it helps to pay for the cost of some of the services provided by physical and occupational therapists, as well as some of the cost of home health care. Those whose Medicare Part A premiums are covered by payroll or self-employment taxes may enroll in Part B. Coverage under Part B generally requires payment of a monthly premium.
3. Part C (Medicare Advantage plans). Those insured under Medicare Parts A and B can choose to enroll in a Medicare Part C, or “Medicare Advantage,” plan. Medicare Advantage plans, which must be approved by Medicare, are offered by private insurers. The coverage provided under these plans must be at least as good as what Medicare provides, but coverage otherwise varies from insurer to insurer. Medicare pays private insurers a specified amount each month for every Medicare Advantage member. Coverage under Medicare Advantage requires payment of a monthly premium for Medicare Part B, as well as a monthly premium for the private insurer.
4. Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage). Medicare Part D helps to pay for the cost of prescription drugs. Those insured under Medicare Part A, Medicare Part B or Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) may choose to enroll in Part D. Medicare Part D generally requires payment of a monthly premium.
Medicaid is two programs that provide disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). SSDI provides benefits to insured workers with disabilities, or in other words, those who: (1) have been employed for at least five of the last ten years; (2) have paid FICA (“Federal Insurance Contributions Act”) taxes; and (3) have a “disability” as the Social Security Administration defines the term. A disability, for purposes of Social Security, is a serious medical condition that lasts (or has lasted) for more than a year and prevents someone from being gainfully employed. In addition, SSDI will provide benefits to the disabled children of insured workers, so long as the children became disabled before they reached the age of 22, as well as to the disabled surviving spouses of insured workers who have died.
SSI, on the other hand, pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have little or no income, or other financial resources. The program also provides benefits to adults without disabilities who are age 65 or older and whose financial means fall within the applicable limits.
Someone who receives SSDI benefits, or who is eligible to receive SSDI benefits, is also eligible to receive Medicare at the same time. Eligibility for Medicare begins after a waiting period of 24 months from the first date of eligibility for SSDI. For those with kidney disease who are on dialysis, however, the waiting period is reduced to three months from the date on which they began receiving dialysis. Medicare eligibility begins immediately for those with a terminal illness expected to cause death within six months, as well as for those with ALS. Those over age 65 are generally not eligible to receive SSDI benefits.
Likewise, eligibility for SSI and Medicare is also possible. Those under age 65 can receive SSI and Medicare benefits at the same time as long as they satisfy the eligibility requirements of both programs. For those age 65 and over, eligibility for Medicare is essentially automatic, and they can receive SSI benefits if their financial means are within the limits established under the Social Security Administration’s rules.
Eligibility for Medicaid often varies according to state law. In Ohio, children up to age 19; families with children under age 19; pregnant women; those with disabilities; and those over age 65 are eligible to receive Medicaid benefits if they meet certain financial requirements. Ohio residents under 65 who qualify for Medicaid can receive SSDI benefits, as well, if they qualify for SSDI under the rules of the Social Security Administration. Those over age 65 are usually not eligible to receive SSDI benefits.
Medicaid and SSI are similar programs inasmuch as they serve those with limited financial means. Ohio residents who have qualified to receive SSI benefits under the Social Security Administration’s rules can also qualify to receive Medicaid benefits if they qualify based on the rules established by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Although the receipt of benefits through all four of these programs is technically possible, the eligibility rules can be complicated—especially for receiving benefits from multiple programs at once. Furthermore, applications for disability benefits are often denied at first. If you think that you might be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits, or if your application for benefits has been denied, then you should speak with a lawyer, like John T. Nicholson, who focuses on Social Security law.
Last updated by John Nicholson on .