1 Presenter: Jacquie Brennan. >> TAJAUNA: Good afternoon everyone and welcome to the webcast SSI and SSDI. I'm Tajauna Dunning, your sponsor for today's event. I will be moderating today's webcast and voicing your questions to the presenter. I want to encourage you to send any questions you have. In order to submit a question click the subsubmit button or send to email@example.com you can send questions now or at any time during the presentation. They will be posted to the presenter as she pauses for questions. As for some reason time does not allow the presenter to answer all the questions, they will be posted. Additionally, if anyone has any questions, call 713-520-0232. Today's topic is on SSI and SSDI and how they differ. It is being presented by Jacquie Brennan. In her 8 years as an attorney, Ms. Brennan has focused her practice on disability issues. Ms. Brennan has successfully handle dozens of differenten kinds of disabilities. She serves on many disability related boards and advisory and committees and civil rights issues for professional and consumer audienceings. Jacquie I turn it over to you. >> JACQUIE: Thanks Tajauna. This topic is a hard one to 2 take in any kind of common sense orders because it is like a puzzle with all these different pieces that make no sense until you see how they fit together. Since I can only talk about one thing at that time, it is hard to decide where to start. My plan is to cover the basics of each program, SSI and SSDI. I will talk about what each program is and what it offers. Eligibility for each program, the benefits and the procedure or process for applying. We'll also briefly talk about returning to work while maintaining benefits. I will take questions along the way. I may postpone some questions if we have not yet gotten to that topic, but I know it will be coming up. I have received a few questions before the webcast started that were e-mailed in and I have incorporated those answers into the presentation. Okay. So let's get started. SSDI stands for Social Security Disability Income. When I'm presentlying this to a group of people I usually ask people to guess about what that stands for and that is part of the thing that people get wrong most often. They think it stands for income. But it is insurance and that is an important part how SSDI works. It is financed with social securities taxes. The amount of benefit that you get on social security disability insurance is based on the employee's report or what they call the insured record. 3 So it works like insurance in that you pay into the system when you pay security taxes. Payroll taxes, you are paying part of that goes to paying this insurance premium for disability. And we had a question that was e-mailed in about if you get paid in cash, does that mean that it won't look like you have worked enough to qualify and that's right. If you don't pay taxes -- if you are paid in cash and later claim the taxes on your income tax and you pay that, then you are all right. If you paid in cash and never paid taxes, that security was never paid and you won't have insurance from that. When you stop paying in, it is a little bit like car insurance, when you pay your car insurance every month, you have car insurance and when you stop the premiums and stop paying, you don't have insurance anymore. It works that way for SSDI too with an important exception, when you stop making payments and you are still insured for five more years. So if you become disabled under the associate security definition within the five years after you last worked, you are still covered. Okay. Now, SSDI requires that you have credit. This used to be called quarters which was confusing for people because of how they figure these quarters. But now they are called credits. 4 Most of the time for most people, you have to have 40 credits to qualify for SSDI. How you earn credits is that you earn money during any different year. The amount changes from year to year. This year you get one credit for every $970 you learn. There is a limit of four credits, but you could earn all four of those credits in the first month of year if you earned that much money. So it isn't by quarters of the year that you earn it, it is by money that you earn. So for every $970 this year, you earn a credit. So if you work for ten years, there's a 40 credits. 20 of those credits had to have been earned in the last ten years. That last ten years ends within the year that you became disabled. If you are younger than 24 years old when you become disabled -- overrule social security doesn't expect that you have worked for ten years when you are 24 so they have a different way of figuring it. So if you are younger than 24 when you become disableded you qualify during the 3-year period before your disability began. If you are between 24 and 31, you may qualify if you worked half of the time between age 21 and the date you became disabled. For example, if you have become disabled at age 27, you would need 12 credits, which is three years out of the six years between age 24 and 27. After age 31, the number of credits you need starts 5 to income and the social security administration has what chart on the website. I want to put a plug in for the social security website. It is a good and very user friendly website. Very easy to navigate. It has really good complete information that is searchable and they have a great section on frequently asked questions. If you don't find your question in that question, you can e-mail social security and within a couple of days they will e-mail you a response. I have done that several times and I have always gotten responses from them really quickly. Although I think all of this I just went through about numbers of credits that you need is complicated, if you have questions about that, I encourage you to go to the website any time and check the numbers on that. With SSDI, family members may be able to get benefits on the record of the person with the disability. Each family member which is a spouse, a minor child or a disabled adult child maybe able to get up to 50% of the person's disability rate. Although, there's a maximum of between 150 and 180% of your rate. So if you have 12 children, you wouldn't get necessarily 6 times your benefits for the kids, because there's a maximum family limit. But family members do qualify for benefits based on their record of the person with the disability. 6 Benefits, if you get them, they start five whole months -- actually they start on the six month after five full months after the onset date. Your onset date is the date on which the social security administration says you were disabled. So in some cases that's a very certain date. You had an accident that caused your disability, then it is very clear what date was your onset date. But for many people, it is not so clear. They have an illness or they have an injury that gets progressively worse and you find it impossible to continue working. They consider that their onset date. Social security may not consider it. They may change your onset date. So that date can become very important because after that date, you have to wait those five full months before your benefits start. And you also get medicare benefits with SSDI, but they don't start for two years after the date that you became disabled according to SSDI. So after your onset date you have to wait 2 years before medicare benefits kick in. Of course, in addition to all of that, you have to also show that you have a disability. The definition of disability is the same for both SSI and SSDI. So let me first go over the basics of SSI and then we'll get to how they determine whether you meet their definition for disability. 7 Do you have any questions about SSDI at this point? >> TAJAUNA: Actually I do have one -- I have a couple questions. One question is why is someone -- I'm going to read it. What happens if you are switched from SSDI to SSI over time? >> JACQUIE: I'm not quite sure what the question is. Someone wants to know how they are switched from SSDI to SSI over time. >> TAJAUNA: Maybe we can get the individual to resubmit the question. That would be great. Another question is the insurance you pay for when you work is SSI and SSDI is the credits you earn? >> JACQUIE: No. I apparently didn't make that clear. SSI -- we're getting ready to talk about SSI. The SSDI is the insurance. The credits you earn are just part of that. That's part of what you have to have in order to qualify for SSDI. But SSDI insurance is that you pay for through social security payroll taxes. >> TAJAUNA: Okay. Next one is what about if you were born with a disability but never questioned SSDI. Would you be covered under the circumstances? >> JACQUIE: Well it depends. Honestly for most legal questions, the answer is it depends. In this case, what is going to -- what will matter in terms of whether you qualify for SSDI is not so much when your disability started as 8 whether you have been worked. If you were born with a disability but you were able to work so you paid into the the system and you had the insurance, then you became unable to work because of the your disability then you would be covered under SSDI. Doesn't matter when you disability started. Did you work enough to pay into the system at that point so that you qualify for benefits that way. So it won't matter if you were born with a disability in terms of when it started versus when you can qualify for benefits. It matters whether you paid into the system and then became no longer able to work. >> TAJAUNA: And can you tell us why they make you wait five months until after you are disabled before the benefits start? >> JACQUIE: Congress in its wisdom, set it up that way. The reason it is legislative history, they were worried that people would come on and off of SSDI and that it would be a nightmare in that way so they didn't want people to go on and get better and be able to come off right away. The same way why they set up the two year wait for medicare. They didn't want people going on and off medicare as they got better from their disabling condition. That's the reason social security gives for why they have that waiting period. >> TAJAUNA: We have a couple more questions, one is short 9 and one is pretty long. The next one is do you get medicare benefits after two years with SSDI or sit medicaid benefits for a younger person? >> JACQUIE: No it is medicare with SSDI. Doesn't matter about your age. If it is SSDI, it's medicare benefits. We'll talk about SSI in a minute which is where medicaid comes in. >> TAJAUNA: This next question is lengthy. We'll go forit. My wife recently suffered a brain injury make her unable to carry out her home making tasks. She had worked and paid into social security over 30 years. She worked several years but hasn't paid into social security for many years. She was a full time mom and homemaker. While applying for benefits, she was denied because she hasn't worked for over ten years. Two my income is too high to qualify for benefits. The hole or gap here, that while I, her husband was working and paying for her to stay at home to be the stay at home mom, there was no recognition for her work. Now I have to pay someone real money to take her to the grocery store or actually do the cleaning, et cetera. In other words, I have to pay someone else over $15 an hour to do the tasks that she used to do. Shouldn't there be a way for her to get credit, quote unquote, for the social security I paid. We file taxes jointly and pay federal income taxes on our 10 joint income. Why doesn't social security recognize that she was working while at home. She to replace her costs. Had she paid into social security for the last ten years, she would qualify. What are my complaint or appeal options? Do I have a write my congressman to recognize stay at home moms? >> JACQUIE: Well, the question of whether she shouldn't be able to do this is obviously open to different opinions, but the fact is just as you have laid it out because -- I don't guess from social security standpoint that its a question that she values what she is as a stay at home mom and homemaker, but rather did she pay social security taxes during that time ask she didn't. You did so you are covered. She didn't and she isn't covered. Yes, it would take a change in the law to make that differently. As far as your appeal process other than going to the social security appeals process -- we will talk more about social security appeals process, but they will deny you because the way the law is written right now, if you didn't pay in, you are not covered and she didn't. The other thing you mentioned at the beginning is she didn't qualify for either program because they count your income and we will talk about that under the SSI part of this. >> TAJAUNA: That's all of our questions for now. >> JACQUIE: Let's go to SSI. SSI stands for not social 11 security which is what most people think right now, but its Supplemental Security Income. SSI is a program that is financed through general revenues. It is not financed through social security taxes like SSDI is. It is just administered by the social security administration but not paid by social security money. With SSI there is a fixed amount of benefit. It doesn't depends on your past earnings the way that SSDI does. It is fixed at a maximum of $603 for a month. That's in 2006. It goes up with the cost of living adjustment every year. That is the maximum amount that you can get unless you are fortunate enough to live in one of the ten states that supplements the SSI benefit. Those states are California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nevada, new Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, road island, Vermont and last one is not actually a state but Washington, DC. You can get less than that, but that's the maximum amount unless you live in one of those states that supplements it. They sometimes decrease the amount of the benefit by what are called countable income and resources, we'll talk more about that. SSI is a needs based program. Meaning that you have to have less than $2,000 in countable resources. Things that do not could want as resources are the home you live in, your personal belongs, your car, burial plots 12 that you purchased and insurance policies, do not count as part of those resources. Basically the things you have don't count against resources, but money in the bank does. If you have stocks, those kinds of things will count against you. As well as if you had things like a luxury boat or land other than your homestead, those kinds of things will count as part of your resources. They can have more than $2,000 in resources. There's no family benefit with SSI. The benefit is for the person with the disability only. With SSI that benefits are retroactive to the date that you apply regardless of when you became disabled under social security's definition. With SSI it goes back to the date that you actually call in and start your application and your benefits will be retroactive to that date. Unless social security ultimately find that although you are disabled now, you weren't when you started the process. You are not supposed to start is it process unless you are but sometimes they may find it later on that date and your benefits will be retro active to that date. With SSI you automatically get medicaid. There's no waiting period for that. That becomes retro active to the date youably it. With SSDI you get medicare. With SSI you get medicaid. You can get both SSDI and SSI. It's a little 13 uncommon, but it happens. The way you would get both is you qualify for SSDI because you worked and you have enough credits and you go through the process and you qualify for SSDI. But because of your past earning record, your income is -- your monthly income from SSDI is very low. In that case, it might be low enough that you could also qualify for SSI. And if you do, then you will get both medicare and medicaid if you qualify under both programs. Someone submitted a question earlier about whether you could get retirement benefits and disability benefits at the same time and whether that was an okay thing or whether that was legal. Actually what happens is when you reach full retirement age, nothing changes with your disability payment except for social security benefits, it will be called retirement benefits instead of disability benefits. Starting with the month that you reach full retirement age, you will get your benefits at that time with no limits on your earnings because retirement benefits opposed to disability benefits. Are there any questions at this point Tajauna? >> TAJAUNA: Jacquie, we have quite a few. Some of them are still going back to where we were before we started talking about SSDI. We have one who asks why is an individual who is switched from one program to another get SSDI to SSI? >> JACQUIE: It's impossible for me to answer that without 14 kind of knowing the specific facts of that. It would be unusual to be switched from SSDI to SSI. It can happen that a person would be able to get both as I just explained, and it could also happen to be no longer eligible for SSI because of income that you get or resources that you have. But to be switched, I'm not sure. So I would really need to know -- this maybe something I could talk to later or e-mail with the person to get more specific facts about that particular case of what happened. >> TAJAUNA: Okay. The next question is is there a quicker way to get medicare if you have had a traumatic injury? >> JACQUIE: Not medicare. They have -- social security has what they will deem as something that's allows you to get a presumptive disability to get your payments more quickly and they have a list of things on their website that you can read. If you have any of those, they can make a determination of presum active disability. So they can start right away. If you qualified for SSI, your medicaid could start as well. But medicare doesn't start right away even under the presumptive disability. No. >> TAJAUNA: Okay, the next question is is there any movement in either SSI or congress to reduce the 24 month waiting period for a SSDI recipient to receive medicare? >> JACQUIE: There could be. Not that I personal know of. It would be a good idea. That's a really hard thing. The 15 truth is for a whole lot of recipients, the two year medicare wait doesn't exist actually, because what happens is, it takes them two years to go through the process of getting benefits. By the time they get benefits it has been two years since their onset date. So they start getting it immediately when they get their benefit. But for people who qualify because it is something so traumatic or self-evident that social security gives them benefits right away, then that two year wait is devastating because for many people that don't have insurance, their disability expenses are so overwhelming. I haven't heard of anything it would be great. >> TAJAUNA: If they were disabled when working and then unable to work would they go back to the original onset of the disability or the progression of disability to start. >> JACQUIE: They go to the date on which they decide you became too disabled to work. Whether you met their definition of disability. So even if the injury occurred long before that or the illness, but it feels progressive so that at first you were able to work but over time you became unable, they would pick a date -- you get to pick the date. You tell them when it is. Sometimes they change it based on medical evidence. But between the two they pick a date as your onset date and that's the date on which they deem that you were unable to work. 16 >> TAJAUNA: The next question, if receive SSI and have medicare, can I return to work once SSA has aproved by benefits and will I accumulate more credits toward social security to get for cash credits at the age of 65 years old. >> JACQUIE: Yes, and we'll talk more later in the webcast. But yes you can go back to work and earn more credits. >> TAJAUNA: Okay. Next question. Would I be prohibited from owning a both worth approximately $4,000 as I use for a residence under SSI? >> JACQUIE: I think -- I honestly haven't looked at this question before. But I this if it is your residence, you would be okay on that. If you use it as a residence, that would be the deciding factor. If I were faced with that, I would call social security and check. But I imagine that's how you would get around that if it is a residence. >> TAJAUNA: Next question and this is the last question that we have, two comments. Going back to the question of the working husband and stay at home wife became disabled. What would happen if the wife passed away would they qualify. Would you have time to explain -- >> JACQUIE: We wouldn't be going into RSDI in this webcast. Could the wife qualify. She could qualify for survivor benefits and again that's not really a disability related benefit, but she could qualify for that. Dependsing on her income and assets she may qualify for SSI if she had less 17 than $2,000 in countable resources and didn't have much income from the survivor benefit. But qualified for SSDI she wouldn't be able to do that still because [Inaudible] >> TAJAUNA: These are comments. It say that is Alaska also supplements SSI income, that's based on when you remember naming off states and also states Alaska also supplements through Alaska public assistance. And then we have one individual who asks for a website but I'm not quite sure in regards to what website this person is talking so if they wouldn't mind resubmitting the question. >> JACQUIE: The website is -- now we'll talk about the definition of disability. You may or may not know, there are a lot of federal laws that deal with disability and state laws as well. Many of these have different definitions. It would probably be helpful if there was one definition for disability that we had to know and that would be it. Many of the federal laws have different definitions. And the other big civil rights law for people with disabilities, of course, is the Americans with disabilities act. The ADA has a different definition. For the ADA there's a broad definition that is physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. But for social security they don't use that definition at all. 18 Their process for meeting the definition of disability is they ask five questions. These also, as I said and probably will continue to say are also on their website. Five questions are: Are you working? That's a really important one. Sometimes people will call me and leave a message saying, they want to apply for social security disability and they leave me their work number to call them back. If you are working and you are making more than $860 a month, you will not be considered disabled under social security rules. But if you are not working, they go on to the next question. Which is: Is your condition severe? This trips up most people when they get their denial letters, it will say, you said you have these impairments and the records show that you do have those impairments, but they are not severe enough to qualify for social security. Your condition has to interfere with basic work related activity in order for your claim to be considered. If it does not do that, they will find that you are not disabled. If your condition does interfere with basic work related activities, then they go to the third question, which is: Is your condition found in the listing of disabling conditions? Social security actually has in contract to say the Americans with disabilities act that doesn't have a list of 19 impairments. Social security does. It's called the list of impairments. People usually call it the blue book or the listing. It's a listing of medical conditions for each major body system. Now the problem is it is not just a list of conditions, it goes into detail and again, this is on their website, but it goes into detail about what you have to have. So for example, diabetes is listed there. But having diabetes is not enough to qualify you. You also have to meet the conditions, the symptoms that they list there. So if you have the condition and it manifests itself as it does in the listings, then it means that you meet the definition of disability for social security. If your condition is not on the list, and of course, no list of conditions could ever be complete, then they have to decide if it is of equal severity to a medical condition that is on the list. And if so, then you are done. If not, then you go to the fourth question, which is: Can you do the work you did previously? If your condition is severe, but it is not the same or equal level of severity of a medical condition in the listings, then they decide if it interferes with your ability to do the work before. If it does not, then your claim is denied. If it does, you go to the fifth question, and the fifth question is: Can you do any other type of 20 work? If you cannot do the work you did in the past, can you adjust to do other work. So they consider the medical condition itself, they consider your age, they consider your education, your past work experience, and any transferable skills that you have. If you can't adjust to other work, then you claim will be aproved. If they determine that you can do other kinds of work, then you claim will be denied. Very often when I go through these, people get very upset that they consider things like your age and education when they are deciding whether you can do other work. The reason that they do this is because they figure that the more education you have, the more jobs you would have available to you. The more kinds of work you can do. So if someone didn't go past elementary school, then they will assume is that there are jobs that they would be more trouble doing than someone who has a graduate degree. It works a little bit the same with age. The older you are, the less likely social security, believers, that you are to be able to transfer your skills to another job. So they consider those two factors when looking at this disability determination. We had a question about disability SSDI application where on the SSDI application you have to be able to say, I'm unable to work because that's the claim you are making 21 with social security. That you are unable to work. Whether or not you can do that, while at the same time if you were fired from your previous job, because of your disability because they wouldn't accommodate your disability, can you still have an on going law suit over your ADA claim while saying that you are unable to work. The problem is that if an ADA claim, you have to be able to say that I could have done the job. I was doing do job. If they hasn't fired me because of my disability I would be there still. At the same time on the social security side you are saying you can't work. The Supreme Court looked back at that in 1999 and they decided it wasn't an absolute thing. Under the ADA, there's a reasonable accommodation standard. So under the ADA you could be fired from your job because they are not giving you a reasonable accommodation. So if that's the reason is the reasonable accommodation, the lack of that is what supports your ADA claim then you can continue with that claim even though you are saying under social security you are unable to work. Because social security doesn't look at reasonable accommodations in their list of questions to determine whether you meet their definition. We're going to go through the procedure and process in a minute, but that's the definition of disability with social security. That's how they determine it. Do we have 22 any questions, Tajauna? >> TAJAUNA: The first one is asking what is the website for SSI and that's actually on the same website, it is the SSA website. The next question is I heard that the federal government can garnish SSI or SSDI if you are a student in default from paying federal student loans, is this true and to what extent? >> JACQUIE: That's a good question. I know they can garnish for student loans, but I haven't worked with anybody going through that. So I'm not sure to what extent. I could probably find that out. If you got that on e-mail, I can look into it and we can postthe answer. Because I don't know to what extent they can do that. >> TAJAUNA: The next one, to kind sign up for long-term disability at the place of employment, the pay out is limited if you become disability disabled and there is a maximum amount to get from long-term disability and SSDI combined. Is there anyway how much to sign up when signing up for long-term disability? Second part, is there a maximum benefit amount a person can receive from SSDI if I have 40 credits what's the maximum I can get? >> JACQUIE: There's no maximum amount you can receive on SSDI. That's determined -- your monthly amount is determined by your cash -- a complicated formula that I don't even know. I went to law school not math school. But 23 there's a formula for that. That doesn't max out at any point. But long-term disability -- it might be good to do a webcast on that, the interplay between long-term disability and SSDI because that's -- they ever an interesting relationship. But with long-term disability, of course it is impossible for me to advise you on how much you need because that's going to be different for any person how much income they want to get and how much insurance they want to buy. But with long-term disability, -- how that works depends on what it says in the long-term disability policy. Typically, when you get it through your employer, the policy is between the employer and the insurance company. Your third party beneficiary as the employee, but you don't really see the policy itself. They will be different from state to state because insurance laws are largely state laws. So there will be some differences, but most policies, what most policies provide for is the long-term disability carrier, if they decide you meet their definition of disability, which is in the policy, but not necessarily -- not the same as social security or the ADA definition, they have their own definition in the policy of what it takes to qualify for their benefits to have a disability under their policy. Once you qualify for that, they will pay -- again this 24 will be in the policy but typically, one or two years. Some fixed amounts of time they will pay before they require that you apply for social security benefits. Then what happens, if you are successful and you get SSDI, you will continue to get the same amount of money as you got under your long-term policy. If your long-term policy was paying you $2,000 a month and you get SSDI. SSDI is going to pay you $1500 a month. You don't get is sum of that. What happens is, social security sends you the $1500 and your long-term disability carrier only have to send you $500 to get you up to where they were before. So they only have to make up the difference once you get social security benefits. That's why they require that you apply for social security benefits and give you a provide support for helping you with the paper work and it isn't just out of kindness that they do that. It's once you get social security they reduce the benefits. So whatever level of income you get it will pay X amount of dollars if you become disabled under their policy, that will not be in addition to social security. That's generally a real big shock for people. It seems unfair. They pay for their policy. But it is the way the policy is written. It's not that social security reducings the benefit, they pay if full amount, but the insurance carrier gets to 25 reduce the benefit if you get a public benefit. Long answer to that question. But an important one because it is a very hot topic. >> TAJAUNA: The next question asks under what circumstances can you get medicare under SSI? >> JACQUIE: Well SSI is not connected to the medicare program. Though -- only if you qualified for medicare in some other way like as a retiree then your benefit is low enough to qualify for SSI, but it would be a separate program qualifying for medicare. Because SSI is connected to medicaid. >> TAJAUNA: The next one says, hi, my question on social security is because I'm disabled and I also advocate for people with disabilities. I see a lot of people that would like to work, however they like I, would needs a personal assistant to work. Unfortunately, some of us will always need the PA service for the rest of our lives. If we work we lose benefits eventually. By the time we work and pay for the PA, there's very little money to live on. This is one reason people don't work, which is not great for our economy. Would you say the best way to get off SSI or SSDI and still get help with PA, would self-employment at home work best? >> JACQUIE: Well, it might. But that's going to be a really different answer for each person, I think. I 26 wouldn't hazard a guess to be able to say that's the best solution for a group of people. But it might be the best solution for a person. When we get to the part on going back to work, we'll talk more about that. >> TAJAUNA: Upon reaching retirement age you say earnings don't matter anymore. Is that true for SSI? >> JACQUIE: Whether they are SSI only or if they are concurrent recipient do they still look at earned and unearned income for SSI no matter what age you are? Yes for SSI is a need based program. Yes. The answer to that is yes. They still look at that. >> TAJAUNA: The next one. Is it difficult to qualify if your disability is chronic fatigue syndrome and you can work some but not on a regular basis? >> JACQUIE: Yes. It just is whether or not that's fair is an entirely different subject. But it is hard to get benefits with chronic fatigue. It's hard to meet the requirements that they have and there are social security administrative law judges who don't even believe those impairments exist. They will say that in their opinions. So it can be very hard. Certainly not impossible and definitely worth pursuing, but yes, it is harder. >> TAJAUNA: Okay. The next question. Could you explain the qualifications of a disabled child receiving SSI and how 27 a parent eats income affects this? >> JACQUIE: Parent's income is deemed to the child until the child is 18. So it makes it -- I mean it's harder to -- harder for a child to qualify for SSI benefits. No matter what the disability is because of the, because the parent's income is deemed to the child. So they look at the family income until the child is 18. Once the child is 18 they don't. So it is much easier to qualify at that age. Before that they look at the whole family income and resources. >> TAJAUNA: Okay. Along those lines, next question how is disabled child receive SSI benefits? >> JACQUIE: A disabled child doesn't receive SSI benefits unless they receive it on the record of a parental who has a disability. As a parent of a disabled child, you become disabled and you get SSDI benefits, then your child qualifies for those benefits. For a portion of those benefits that we talked about at first. Up to a 50% benefit for the spouse and each minor child and disabled child. A child with disabled and then reach the age of majority. That part's confusing to people because they want to say, well my disabled child should get benefits on my record. But that only works if you are getting a disability benefit on your own record. Then your child can. But not unless you have a disabilities and getting it on your own record. 28 >> TAJAUNA: The housewife situation. Two questions. It says, did DDS say that this women had what disability that meets the listing of disability impairments, if yes, who would see be considered for SSDI since she did work before and paid into SSDI? >> JACQUIE: That's a good question. I didn't address that parts of the question. You have to have earned half of your credit within the previous ten years and so she worked. It had been too long before she paid into the system. Once you stop paying into the system, you only have five years of eligible after that. So if she had become disabled four years after she worked, then yes, she would be able to qualify on her record. I forget the long time [Inaudible]. >> TAJAUNA: Another question. If you have an individual that's out of work with no compensation from employer for five or six months because of a disability, the individual has worked several years, that go back to work can they get short-term disability for the five or six months they were down and unemployed and short-term disability? >> JACQUIE: Yeah. Short-term disability is -- it's not part of social security law and so it's really more of a policy of what each employer offers in terms of short-term disability. I condition answer without knowing that employers policy. >> TAJAUNA: Could you also -- this can you e-mail to the 29 extent on SSI and SSDI can be garnished and under what circumstances. >> JACQUIE: I can do that. >> TAJAUNA: If you are on SSI since birth do to a disability and it continued when a person turned 18 how long can it last? >> JACQUIE: Indefinitely as long as they continue to meet the eligibility requirement as far as income and resources. >> TAJAUNA: Two more questions. I was listening into the webcast of the differences between SSI and SSDI. One someone asked the question if any action has been made to change the two year waiting period. I think this is going to turn into a comment, but representative has what legislation to end the two year waiting period and then they provide a link to the legislation and we will postthis link on our website and individuals can go back. We'll post that comments along with the link. The question is -- the last question. Is this child eligible for SSI her father meets the requirement of less than $800 a month the child is two years old. She does not talk, she points and claps her hands for speech. >> JACQUIE: I would have to get into the listings to look, but I would say probably not. Just based on that very brief description and not really having any medical evidence or anything. How you really know if she meets the listings is apply. 30 Short of applying for benefits, you won't know for sure. I would apply and see what they say. >> TAJAUNA: That's all the questions for now. >> JACQUIE: Okay. Now let's talk about the procedure for what you do to get benefits. First of all, you apply. You can apply online for SSDI by phone or in person. They don't currently let you apply for SSI online. By phone but then they will make an appointment for you to go into a social security office in those cases. You need to have when you apply, when you are going to have your interview about your application, you need to have medical records if you can. I don't want anybody going out and spending a lot of money to get their medical records, but whatever medical records you have kept, pollution just have names of the physicians you have seen and or hospitals where you have been treated because these things will help a lot when they are trying to determine exactly whether you qualify. Letters from doctors are helpful, but only if they contain the right information. I mention this because this is one of the things I think in my abstract for this webcast, I said what a social security judge will want and doesn't want. This is an example of a thing that a judge doesn't want. A judge does not want to look at a letter from your 31 doctor saying that you are total and permanently disabled. That's just generally the phrase they use. People think and understandably, if they get five letters from five doctors that say they are disabled for sure they will get benefits. The problem is that disability is not really a medical term. It is a legal term. So the judge is not interested in your doctor's legal opinion about whether you have a disability. The judge, in fact, is the person who gets to decide that. What they want in those letters from your doctors, they want a description of what you can do. What you are able to do in terms of work related activities. So it is helpful to have things in there about how long you can sit, how long you can stand, how far you can walk without taking a rest, how often you would need to lie down during an 8-hour work day. Whether you can handle the stress of a job. What kinds of medications you are on and what the side effects of those medications, how they would impact your ability to work. So those kinds of things that they want to hear from a doctor and not just a letter saying this person has a disability. It is good to have a list of your medications and the side effects. Very often when cases, essentially come down to what we call paying cases, where a person is in a tremendous amount of pain and the pain keeps them from 32 working, they can take pain medication that help it is pain. But when they are on the medication they can't maintain concentration for a sufficient length offer time to do work and toll directions and those types of things. So it is good to have your medications and side effectss. Have everything as organized as you can and keep copies of everything. Lots of times people have come to me and said, here is my case. And they just have a lot of papers and they don't know what they have told social security and they haven't kept copies. That makes its harder in the long run not to keep things organized and copies of things that you send. You are going to feel like through the course of process that you have already told social security this. This is the same thing they asked me for three weeks ago. You are right. They ask for the same things often, you just end up writing the same thing over and over. But that's their process. So keeping copies helps. When you first apply, social security says it takes about three or four months for the initial application -- from the initial application to when they send you their decision. Most of time, even according to social security statistics in the 85% range, most of the time you will be denied benefits when you first apply during initial 33 application. Many people, far too many people simply give up at that points. They get the official long involved letter from social security that says, you don't have a disability. They say, well okay. I don't have a disability. It's very important and in the letter it tells you you can appeal the decision. You can appeal for reconsideration and you have 60 days in which to appeal. Don't let the 6 days lapse. The quicker you appeal the quicker you will get through the process. So you appeal for reconsideration. Again most of time on reconsideration, you will be denied again. Then it says you can appeal for a hearing before an administrative law judge ALG. Again you have 60 days to appeal that decision. So you appeal for a hearing. At this point is when people often think about whether or not they want to get a lawyer to help them. A lot of people worry about getting a lawyer because they don't have any money at this point. They haven't worked in probably, at least 6 months and so they don't really have the money to hire a lawyer. The way a lawyer gets paid in social security cases is that the lawyer gets a percentage, 25% of the past due benefit that is you will get. So if you lose, you don't have to pay the lawyer anything. 34 If you win, you get benefits. You will get a lump sum payment that will go back from -- well depends if it is SSDI or SSI. If it is SSDI it is from the six months after your onset date, then you will get those back benefits in a lump sum payment. For SSI they go back to when you applied and you will get a lump amount sum. You get 25% of that up to a maximum of $5,300, which ever is less. That's what the lawyer gets. If you don't win, you don't owe the lawyer anything. The reason that it can be a positive thing to have a lawyer in these situations is kind of the reason that they want lawyers in other cases as well. It is because a lawyer knows what they are doing in this particular setting. So they know what the judge wants to see, what kinds of evidence won't make a difference, how to ask questions during the hearing, what to get from witnesses and can also make things smoother for you when you are with somebody who knows what they are doing. It is not necessary to have a lawyer. You absolutely don't need to have a lawyer. You can take a nonlawyer with you. You can take a family member or a friend with you into the hearing so that you don't have to walk in alone, which can be a little intimidating. Let me explain kind of what the hearing is like. I guess the first thing to talk about is the waiting 35 period because it is very lengthy. It's different in different parts of the country. So I can't speak to all waiting periods because some are relatively quick, a few months. But in some cases from the time you apply, you appeal for the hearing, until you actually have the hearing, it can be a year or 18 months even before you have a hearing. That's a very long time waiting for the hearing to happen. When you finally do get your notice for the hearing and you have the hearing, what you want to bring with you will depend somewhat on whether you have a lawyer who tells you what to bring. If you don't have a lawyer and go by yourself, you want to bring things that will make a difference to the judge. So you want to bring records or again, letters from your doctor that show what you can and can not do in terms of work-related activities. Your demeanor in the hearing is very important. Some judges depends a lot on that. If a judge thinks that you are lying about your disability, of course, they are not going to side with you. It is important not to make things seem worse or better than they are. But to simply tell the truth and answer the questions honestly. When you go into the hearing, they are usually held in a small room. If you have been to regular courthouses, these are generally small rooms in a building. They have a long table and a bench where the judge sits. When you go 36 into the room the judge will already be sitting there. He's at one end and generally, called the claimant, the person making claim is at the other end. The judge will have a clerk with him or her who is recording the proceeding and there will also be expert witnesses, generally, not always. They will have experts sometimes medical experts. Not your medical doctor. A medical expert. If you are claiming a psychiatric disability they may have a psychiatrist as well. They may also have a vocational experts and what jobs you can do after looking at your record. It is important that you not get argumentative with these experts because these are people that the judge knows and that are simply giving their opinion. It is not surprising when your opinion would be different from theres. Some people think -- isn't it try you each and every never seen me before. The judge doesn't care about that. You haven't seen the doctor before. He is interested in your documents. Sometimes at the hearing, the judge will let you know that you are going to get benefits. He'll say or she'll say, you get benefits. Or sometimes they don't actually say it, but if you have a lawyer with you, they will know because the judge didn't ask the vocational expert something. But you will get a written decision and again, this time period that it takes to do that varies. 37 I've seen it done in as quickly as two weeks for a bench decision and I refer had it take nine months for a decision. There's a big leeway in there for long it takes a judge to actually render the decision. If you win, once the decision is rendered, you will get benefits, usually it takes two or three months to go through the payment center for your benefits to actually start and they send you your lump sum payment and your benefits start. If you lose, you still have an appeal from there. Although going before the judge is your best shot at getting benefits. But there's an appeal to the appeals counsel of social security. You don't generally have to appear there. They look at the record, read the transcript and listen to the actual tapes of the hearing to make their decision. They can either reverse what the administrative law judge did or more often, if they do anything that's helpful, they send it back to the administrative lawyer judge with some instruction. Or you can -- if you loose at the appeals counsel or choose not do go to the appeals counsel you can appeal directly to federal court. You probably will need a lawyer to do that. Things get complicated once you get to federal court. Not impossible and you are not required to have one, that's for sure. We're running low on time now and I haven't started 38 at all on the returning to work piece of this which will need more than the ten minutes we have left and I'm betting we have some questions. So we may have to do the returning to work trial periods at a separate webcast because I know we won't have time today. Do we have questions? >> TAJAUNA: We do. Quite a few. The first question is many years ago residential service providers got the social security law changed for roommates to be counted as single heads of house holds. Can a mother on SSI have her adult daughter live in her home without the daughter's income count as household income? >> JACQUIE: Looking at that the other way...if the daughter. You know, I would have to go to social security with that and see. I better not hazard a guess on that. I'm not sure on that. I would have to look at that. >> TAJAUNA: Okay. The next question is can you work under SSI benefits and then later be converted to SSDI since you have built up more credits and on the onset you have applied for SSI but did not meet the credit criteria? >> JACQUIE: Yes you can do that. There's a lot of detail that should go into that answer. But the bottom line it can be done that way. >> TAJAUNA: Okay. Next question. Can you qualify for SSDI or SSI if you are an illegal alien but have paid taxes? >> JACQUIE: Yes, there are special rules about that. You 39 can -- if you are a noncitizen who meets alien criteria under legislation in 1996, then you can. You have to meet two requirements for SSI. The noncitizen has to be in a qualified alien category and meet a condition that allows qualified aliens to get SSI and then of course the noncitizen has to meet all other requirements for SSI eligibility. There are 8 categories of qualified aliens. One who is lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States. Someone who is granted conditional entry under a specific section of the immigration nationality act. Someone paroled. A refugee, someone grantsed asylum. Deportation being withheld. So they are very specific about what is a qualified alien, but yes it can be done. >> TAJAUNA: Next question. Do you have to be considered disabled for a whole year to qualify for SSDI benefits if you have worked and earned all your credits? >> JACQUIE: Read the first part? >> TAJAUNA: Do you have to be disabled for a whole year to qualify for SSDI benefits? >> JACQUIE: Part of what they look at is -- you don't have to have been disabled for a year. You don't have to have had the impairment for a year, but it has to be expected to last at least a year. Or result in death. So if it's a disease, you can qualify otherwise it has to be expected to last a year. It doesn't have to have 40 already lasted a year to qualify, but the medical evidence has to be such that it is expected to last a year. So if you break both legs in a skiing accident, you won't qualify under SSDI because even though you are unable to am but late right then, presumably that would get better in a year. That's why they have that one year thing in there. >> TAJAUNA: Okay. This one asks, how is it that persons with disabilities receive SSDI if they have not worked and why are some people with disabilities able to maintain SSI eligibility while working and others are not? >> JACQUIE: Well it -- for the second part of the question, it depends on how much you work. Like I said we're not going to be able to get into that today and I'm really disappointed on that just on the part we were able to cover. But they have incentive programs and plans for achievering self-support programs to help people work while maintaining their benefits. So it is possible to do that and social security needs to know that. You can't just strike out on your own and decide to work and not tell them. They have good programs to get people back to work. So yes, you can do that. What was the first part of the question again? >> TAJAUNA: The first part of the question was, how is that persons with people with disabilities get SSI -- 41 >> JACQUIE: Right. >> TAJAUNA: Able to maintain benefits while others are not? >> JACQUIE: It's because the way social security is set up. Those programs for getting back to work. It is possible to work and maintain your benefits. If you don't want to wait until the next webcast to find out about that, that information is on the social security website about all the programs that they ever to get people back to work and allow you to maintain your benefits while you work. >> TAJAUNA: Next question. Can a person be granted SSDI while keeping his part time job. This person can no longer work enough hours to live on and has to reduce his hours even more but doesn't want to lose the job. >> JACQUIE: Yes. What they base this on is whether you are able to do Substantial Gainful Activity, SGA. It is $860 a month. If you are able to work, but you earn less than $860 a month, because that's the most you can work because of your disables condition. You are unable to work more than whatever given amount it is, as long as as you are not making more than $860 a month, then you can still qualify for benefits. But I should say as a practical matter it is harder to do that. That's definitely the way it is written, but it is just harder because social security is more likely to say, welcome on, if you can work that many hours, you can 42 work this many hours. So it is harder to get benefits that way, but it happens all the time. There are a lot of people that working and not make more than that SGA so they can continues to get benefits. >> TAJAUNA: Next one is a comments. Our charges for attorney fees are less than 5% for center for independent living. We are in west New York and the current waiting time is 24 months. The next one, we also tell SSI applicants to appeal and reapply because it is retroactive. Is this still a good policy? >> JACQUIE: To appeal and reapply? I'm not sure what they mean by that. Doing both things? >> TAJAUNA: Applicants to appeal reapply? >> JACQUIE: Social security says you are not to have two applications at the same time. If you appeal -- from the tone of the question, we are talking about the reapply part. Sounds like they are appeal because it is retroactive back to that date. That's why you want to appeal and not start other. Reapplying is not as good an idea as appealing that original decision so that you have further to go back. We're about out of time. >> TAJAUNA: We have a couple more questions. We won't get all of them answered. But the ones that don't goat answered, we will have to postand or provide to you by the e-mail address you have given to us. But we'll go ahead with 43 a couple more questions. One is asking, what is the definition of an administrative law judge? >> JACQUIE: I'm not sure what the official definition is. But for social security purposes, it's a federal judge and they are appointed like other federal judges and they serve -- in this case -- administrative law judges can be all kinds of things and for all kinds of administrative procedure there is a person could be called administrative law judge. But for social security, the judges appointed and they decide social security cases. They don't decide them until they come up were hearings. They don't have anything to do with the initial determinations. They only preside over cases that actually come to hearing. >> TAJAUNA: These are the last two questions we will be able to take. One individual asks would it be better to start off with a lawyer? >> JACQUIE: The fact is, no. In most cases, a lawyer in fact, won't take your case early on. There's good reason not to hire a lawyer. First of all, a lawyer at that initial stage and reconsideration stage, they are not going to be able to do a lot in terms of -- you are still going to be filling out the paperwork and that sort of thing. It's possible that if you get a lawyer, if you really don't know what to do and you get a lawyer that takes your case at the initial stage, a lawyer can help to put together a packet 44 that would have the things in it to convince social security to give you benefits. But even saying that, I would say that most lawyers won't take if case when you first apply and the reason is is that they get paid from past due benefits and if you get the benefits the day you send in your initial application because they ever done a good job of putting it together, they are liable to get 0 pay for the work that they do. So most lawyers won't take at a case until it is ready to go to hearing. At hearing is where a lawyer can be more helpful. >> TAJAUNA: So if you take a nonlawyer to a hearing can they help you in presenting your evidence and such? >> JACQUIE: Yes. >> TAJAUNA: Nice short answer. And with that thank you Jacquie so much. You have provided the audience with some terrific and important information. I hope all of you listening have learned something. This webcast will be archived at ILRU website. At firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check for upcoming webcasts. The next webcast is schedule for Wednesday, February 8 at 2:00 central standard time and will be presented by Allen from the University of Tennessee. I would say like to thank our presenter Jacquie Brennan. I would say like to acknowledge the national institute on Disabilitiy Rehabilitation, NIDRR. The 45 resource projects. I would say also like to thank the in-house staff without their efforts. Marj Gordon, Sharon Finney, Dawn Heinsohn, Vinh Nguyen, Maria del Bosque, as well as the technical expertise of Rob Dickehuth and our real time captioner Lauren Kellmann. Please note that the disability law resource project is not an enforcement entity. Thank you again for joining us and we hope you will join us again.
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