SSI Exclusions

October 29, 2014

When visiting the Social Security District Office last month, I was pleasantly surprised.   My client was scheduled to meet with a claims representative at 10:15.  We were called to the window within 15 minutes of our scheduled time, which makes them better than the average doctor’s office at the outset.  The claims representative was polite and helpful.  She was professional and answered questions that related to my client’s claim as well as some general questions I had.

 

Specifically, she let me know about some income/asset exclusions for SSI calculations.  Food stamps are not included.  The values of cars will be calculated using the NADA website.  The value of the cars are calculated by deducting any debt owed on the car from the NADA value.  One car does not count but the value of the second car will be counted.  I also learned that if you have children who might be SSI eligible and you are drawing Title II SSDI benefits on your own record, any SSDI auxiliary benefits will be counted as income to the SSI-eligible child, but benefits paid to the non-SSI-eligible children are not.  The last piece of information I gathered was that if an SSI eligible child receives child support, two-thirds of the amount of child support is counted as income.

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I had the opportunity to visit my local Social Security District Office last month.  There was a sign posted that stated the following:

 

The Social Security Administration will no longer provide Social Security number print outs.  To obtain proof of a Social Security number, you have to apply for a card and present:

Proof of ID

Proof of age

Proof of citizenship

 

The Social Security Administration limits the number of Social Security cards you can receive over the course of your lifetime, so be careful with the original cards you obtain.

I’ve posted for two weeks in a row about what it would be like to be suddenly disabled or facing the disability of a child.  I’ve emphasized the importance of paying Social Security Disability benefits for you and your dependents.  This week, I want to suggest improvements to the system.

First, the time it takes for a person to go through the disability process is lengthy.  I tell people I may be working with them up to 2 or 3 years and this remains the case.  2 or 3 years of no income is devastating.  I see people lose homes, moving in with family members which causes additional stress and having to relocate families across the country.  While most financial planners suggest having one or two years of emergency savings in the bank, even this sum (which most people do not have) will not necessarily provide enough of a cushion if you are suddenly disabled.  SSA needs to hire more staff to speed up the process.  I have seen the numbers and spoken with people at local offices.  There is no way they can do more than they are doing without additional resources.

Second, even if a person is approved for benefits, there is a 5 month waiting period for benefits and another 24 months for a total of 29 months of a waiting period for Medicare eligibility for the majority of disabled folks.  It is reprehensible to me that people who are found to be disabled are denied Medicare for another two and a half years.  Often those are the years in which treatment could provide the most benefit — certainly if you have cancer, you cannot wait 29 months for treatment.  This waiting period should be eliminated.

 

 

 

Last week, I posted about people who are just like me who became suddenly disabled and unable to provide for themselves or their families financially.  Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are set up to protect those individuals.  The Social Security system was built to serve a real and genuine need – all American workers pay Social Security taxes for this basic level of financial protection against disability.  Not only do the taxes insure each worker for disability benefits, the taxes also insure the children of deceased workers who become disabled prior to the age of 22 as well as disabled widows.

Children under 22 have typically not paid Social Security taxes, especially if the children suffer from a disabling problem from early in life such as cerebral palsy or Down’s syndrome.  Or maybe your beautiful daughter is in a horseback riding accident.  Maybe your son is hit by a drunk driver.  Children become disabled every day.  Working and paying taxes insures that they will have some measure of financial stability.  I don’t have to imagine that these things happen because I see it and hear it from my clients every day.  Cancer, car accidents, sports injuries, work place injuries, gunshot wounds, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimers — these problems can rob a person of their ability to work, but Social Security Disability and the medical insurance that eventually accompanies the benefits can help provide some stability and peace of mind.

 

Many people think about disability and lots of people wonder who are the people who draw disability benefits, but not many people think about what their life would be like if they suddenly became disabled.  I think many people assume that as they get older, they might develop medical problems that could slow them down, but sudden disability at a relatively young age is a very real possibility.  Right now I am representing people who are just like me who suffered a life changing event  and, despite their best-laid plans, are looking at financial ruin without the safety net that Social Security Disability Insurance benefits provide.

Consider the 35 year old teacher who cannot walk without a walker or use her hands reliably due to an unexpected diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.

Or think about the 52 year old man who was working as an auto mechanic–the primary breadwinner for his family–when he suffered an injury at work that has him undergoing two years of surgeries and the fear of not being able to walk again.

Or how about the 22 year old who was in a car accident that has left her with over $800,000 in medical bills and a brain injury such that she will never be able to work again.

These are the people I help and these are the people that the taxes paid into Social Security protect from financial devastation.

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