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Social Security Benefits and You

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Are you eligible for social security benefits? If so, which ones? The regulations can be labyrinthine, and trying to puzzle them out can be an exercise in frustration. To work out which disability benefits you may be able to receive, and to find out whether you will be able to earn an income while receiving disability, read on.

Does SSA offer partial disability benefits?

No, people with partial or short term disabilities are not eligible for disability benefits through Social Security. Social security benefits are available only to applicants who are completely disabled and whose disability is considered likely to last at least a year. (Note that as long as your highest possible income is below an SSA determined level, you may work while collecting disability benefits.)

Although I am still working, I cannot work the same hours or skill level that I used to, and my income has dropped as a result. Can I still file for social security benefits?

Yes, if your income is lower than a certain SSA determined level, you are eligible to file for disability benefits. The amount changes annually, so check the official Social Security web site or booklets to find out what the current limit is.

However, be aware that your earnings in your current job are not the only earnings the state agency will take into account. If you could make more money by switching to another job, you will be ineligible for disability benefits. The state agency will take into account your medical condition, education, skills, work experience, and age when determining whether you could move to another job, so you will not be required to do work that you are not well enough to do or that you have not been trained to do.

My doctors say there is no treatment that can help me, so why do I have to keep going to doctors?

When you first file for social security benefits, the state agency that manages your case will need a complete evaluation of your health, a process that may require repeated doctors visits. Your regular doctors may not be able to perform necessary tests or have equipment that is necessary to evaluate you, so you may need to visit another doctor to complete the evaluation. The state agency may help you to find the specialist you need.

After you have been ruled eligible for disability benefits, regular examinations will be necessary to track the state of your health. Because not all disabling medical conditions are permanent, your health may improve enough for you to work even without active medical care.

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