I am a seasoned and accredited Human Resources professional working for a major corporation, specializing in assisting corporate executives and all others with their strategic and employee relations needs. More importantly, I am a Caregiver. My wife is a two-time cancer survivor (Lymphoma, Sarcoma). My life has been enriched beyond imagination by caring for her over a period of many years. We are the proud parents of two sons, both serving in the U.S. Army. Presently, my youngest son is protecting our country's freedom in Afghanistan. His older brother returned from that country not long ago. Personally, I love to write, cook, and gaze upon the ocean as often as possible.
Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits as a Caregiver
If you are faced with the responsibility of taking care of a disabled individual, you will often face that the individual is in dire need of financial assistance due to their inability to work. Fortunately, Social Security Disability benefits are available to individuals who are out of work for a year or longer due to their disability.
The Disability Program
There are two different disability programs under which an individual could qualify for: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI):
In order to qualify for SSDI benefits, the individual you are caring for must have earned enough work credits through your work history. As of 2013, for each $1,160 that he or she earns, the individual will earn one work credit. The individual can earn a maximum of 4 work credits each year. In order to qualify for SSDI benefits, if the individual is age 31 or older, the individual must have 20 work credits. If the individual is younger than age 31, he or she must have worked half of the time since turning age 21 to have earned enough work credits to qualify. For example, if the individual is 27, he or she must have worked three of the past six years to have earned enough work credits to qualify for SSDI. If the individual do not have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI, he or she may be able to qualify for SSI benefits.
The SSA's SSI program is a needs-based program. It is meant to help low-income families where one of the wage earners has become disabled. In order to qualify for this program, the individual’s monthly income must not exceed $710 if single or $1,060 per month if married. The individual must also not have more than $2,000 in household assets if single or $3,000 if married.
Proving a Disability to the SSA
In order to be approved for Social Security Disability benefits, the SSA must determine that the person you are applying for is indeed disabled. When you submit an application for disability benefits to the SSA, the SSA will compare the condition that the applicant is suffering from to a listing of conditions known as the Social Security Blue Book (http://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/. The Blue Book includes a listing of all of the conditions that can qualify an individual for Social Security Disability benefits along with the criteria that must be met in order to qualify under each listing. When applying for benefits on the behalf of the person you are taking care of, it is important to understand which Blue Book listing they will be applying under so you know what medical evidence you will need to provide to the SSA. Some examples of Blue Book listings that qualify an individual for disability benefits include:
In addition to obtaining the medical evidence that supports the fact that your charge meets the medical criteria of a Blue Book listing, you may also want to obtain a written statement from the individual's treating physician or physicians. The more evidence that you can provide to support the disability claim, the more likely it is that the claim will be approved during the initial stage of the application process.
Applying for Benefits
As a caregiver, you can help the person you are caring for apply for Social Security Disability benefits. You can apply online (http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/disability.htm) as the individual's representative or you can take the person to apply in person at the local Social Security office, if possible. You will be asked to fill out a number of forms including the Adult Disability Checklist, the Adult Disability Report, and the actual disability application. You will also need to provide substantial medical evidence to support your claim.
You will receive a notice regarding whether or not the applicant was approved for benefits approximately three to six months from the date of the initial application. If the application is denied, you have 60 days from the date of the denial notice to appeal the decision. The first stage of appeals is referred to as a Request for Reconsideration. Very few appeals are approved at this stage of the appeal process. The second stage of appeals, which is the disability hearing, is when most applicants have the greatest chance of overturning the SSA's decision to deny benefits. You should consider retaining the services of a disability attorney before going to your disability hearing.
Article by Ram Meyyappan Social Security Disability Help www.disability-benefits-help.org/blog