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Frequently Asked Questions - Reimer Law Office PC LLO

When is a person considered disabled?
A person is considered disabled if he or she is unable to perform their past relevant work as well as any other work in the national or regional economy at a substantial and gainful work activity level for at least 12 months.

When should I apply for Social Security Disability?
A person should apply for disability at any point in time when they are no longer working full time and they have a reasonable expectation that they will be unable to return to full-time work within 12 months.

Are there retroactive benefits?
Yes. There can be retroactive benefits if there is an extended period of time that the person was disabled before they filed their claim for benefits.

When should I apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits?
A person should apply for SSI at any point in time when they are no longer working full time and they have a reasonable expectation that they will be unable to return to full-time work within 12 months.

What are the requirements for Social Security Disability (SSD)?
In addition to being considered disabled as mentioned under Question #1 above, you must have worked in the national economy and paid into the Social Security system for a required period of time.

What are the requirements for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
In addition to being considered disabled as mentioned under Question #1 above, you cannot have a significant amount of assets, income, or resources.

Warren's AVVO Answers

Warren Reimer is a regular contributor at Avvo.com, an online legal services marketplace that provides lawyer referrals and access to a database of legal information consisting primarily of questions posed by members of the general public and answered by attorneys like Warren. Here are some of the answers Warren has provided:

Can a wife apply for her husband to get social security benefits if he won't apply? Husband is a heroin addict for two years and unable to work or apply for disability.
Warren’s Answer:
He will need to apply for the benefits himself. Further, if the only thing wrong with him is his addiction, he would not qualify for Social Security Disability even if he did apply.

Will they drug test me for cannabis when I apply for SSI disability? I'm currently in the process of signing up for disability SSI due to an untreated thyroid condition following a radioactive iodine thyroid ablation that makes it very difficult to do basically anything physical. I use marijuana unprescribed for my ...
Warren’s Answer:
Social Security will not drug test you for marijuana if you file a claim for benefits. It could become an issue, though. The Social Security laws will not allow a person to get Social Security Disability, even if they qualify as disabled, if their disability is related to a chronic addiction to alcohol or drugs (including marijuana). Thus, if Social Security might say that you are disabled due to a combination of your medical condition and the unprescribed use of marijuana, they might deny your benefits.

If you truly believe that you gain some relief or benefit from your use of marijuana, you should take advantage of the medical marijuana laws in Washington and get it prescribed and use it as prescribed. Even if you get the marijuana issue properly resolved, you will have a tough road trying to establish your disability for Social Security. You will certainly need the advice and counsel of a local attorney who regularly handles Social Security Disability cases.

Can I still come or just ability if I owe unemployment for an overpayment? Can I receive disability insurance if I/O unemployment insurance for back pay? I was in the ICU fifth for a week I had sepsis I was supposed to start a brand-new job on Monday I ended my former job on Friday and I ended up in the hospital on Monday I...
Warren’s Answer:
The issue of whether or not you are going to qualify for Social Security Disability cannot be determined based on this little bit of information. You will need to establish by medical evidence and other evidence that you have had or will be unable to work at a substantial and gainful work level at any kind of work in the regional and national economy for 12 consecutive months. Your recent hospitalization does not give any indication that this is likely to occur.

If you do get over that hurdle, you past overpayment of a state unemployment would have no impact on receiving Social Security Disability.

I have been drawing disability for several years. My husband passed in 2009 and I do receive a widow’s benefit. Can I draw this? I did remarry at age 61 and was able to keep my widows benefit due to age and disability. Remarried in 2012, but I think I can draw more if I can draw off my first husband’s. The disability I draw is off my record earnings.
Warren’s Answer:
Your only right to claim a benefit on your deceased husband's claim is as a widow. In your instance, you took it as a disabled or aged (60 or over) widow and that represented a reduced amount from his full benefit. You will never be able to claim his full benefit because you started receiving benefits prior to your full retirement age of 66.

Why can't my mother file for an appeal? My mother is 62 years old, and she's drawing her on social security and my brother is drawing from her as well, social security is cutting her off and sent her home with the appeal telling her it would be denied by the time she walks out the door a...
Warren’s Answer:
Your concerns are real, but there is much more information that is needed. You and your mother need to have a detailed conversation with a local attorney who has extensive experience handling Social Security Disability cases. Then you can get some good information and some direction for your mother.

How long do you have to be married to qualify for social security survivor benefits? We lived together for six years then got married. My husband died about a year later, my son from previous relationship, who my husband did not adopt qualified for benefits until he was 18 years old. Does that mean I also qualifying?
Warren’s Answer:
I would certainly agree with the other two attorneys. In order to qualify as a widow under the Social Security laws, you would have needed to be married for at least 10 years. Your six years of a relationship is not a factor.

Can I open a business up and draw SS at age 65 or 66. 66 is full retirement? Can I have a business and on SS. I’m thinking about going into business in a few weeks. I would be 65yrs old in July.
Warren’s Answer:
You would only be able to open a new business at age 65 and draw SS Retirement (if your full retirement age is 66) if you limited your work to less than full time as identified by SSA. To the extent that your work, or earnings, exceeded that guideline, you would be subject to repayment or penalty. Once you reach your full retirement age, that would not be a factor. You should contact your local Social Security office to meet with someone and get precise guidelines on any new self-employment business activity.

Do I have to report $4939.00 that I won 6 months prior to applying for SSI in 2015 to SSI IN CA? Currently receiving SSDI and SSI
Warren’s Answer:
You would not report the "earning" of the $4939 if it was prior to the date of your application, but you would need to report any of that money that is left as of the date of the filing for SSI. Further, because of the 5-year look-back, you would need to account to SSA what you did with the $4939. If they determined that you gave it away so that you could file your claim, there would be a negative impact on your claim.

Is social security retirement based on total lifetime earnings and payments?

Two part question: 1) 2010 awarded disability. At the time of the award 54yrs old i was told at 65 my disability would almost double. This made since because 1st 15yrs of work were injury free and much more productive. Last 10 yrs. (which SSDI is ...
Warren’s Answer:
Probably far more than 2 questions involved overall, and I will not write a book to address them all.

The Answer: to your first question is that your benefits will double when you reach 65. Your entitlement to Social Security Retirement is based on the lifetime of your earnings, but your record freezes at the date that you become disabled. Therefore, you are not penalized for not working throughout your lifetime, but you give up the opportunity to have increased earnings over those years that are frozen out. Thus, when you reach full retirement age, basically, the amount stays the same, it just become Retirement rather than Disability. It is very unfortunate that you got misleading information from some representative of Social Security sometime in the past. That does happen, though.

When can I draw from my husband’s pension & SSI? I was married 15 yrs. to my ex and took early retirement at 62....I’m turning 65 in a month. My full retirement age is 66. He is 59. his full retirement is 66plus 6 months...Does he have to be early retirement age (62) for me to collect on his SSI an...
Warren’s Answer:
You would not be eligible to make a claim on his account until he actually retires (at age 62 or above). Until that happens, you cannot draw on his account. As long as he is alive, though, your benefit would be limited to 1/2 of his full retirement age. If that amount did not exceed what you are currently receiving, you would not benefit. However, if he were to die, you might be entitled to a larger share on his account as a surviving ex-wife which might exceed what you are receiving on your own account, and you would get the larger amount.

I receive a pension check from my deceased husband and social security. I allowed my oldest granddaughter to buy a car in my name now she cannot pay for it and wants to let it go back. My daughter was killed and I have her 5 kids two who are still at home with me. My credit is already shot. I am 70 years old raisin...
Warren’s Answer:
Your Social Security payment cannot be garnished. However, if you put that money in an account where it is mixed, or commingled, with funds from a non-exempt source, it might be possible for a creditor to garnish that account. You need to check with a Georgia bankruptcy attorney to find out if the funds from your pension would also be exempt from garnishment. If that is the case, then your money would be safe in an account with only those funds going into it.

How do I withdraw my application for widow’s benefits? How do I withdraw my application for widow’s benefits?
Warren’s Answer:
Just contact your local Social Security Office to make that request.

Can a person lose their SSI benefits for being hospitalized for a drug related incident? A friend had an overdose on one of his prescription opioids and had to be hospitalized.
Warren’s Answer:
The only way that your friend's benefits could be put in jeopardy would be if Social Security did a re-evaluation of their ongoing status as disabled and it was felt that their status as disability was changed and that they might only be disabled based on a chronic addiction to drugs or alcohol, which seems very unlikely.

I am receiving widow disability benefits...I will be 62 in 6 months...can I collect my social security as well? Please respond so I can start the filing process.
Warren’s Answer:
You cannot collect both, but you are allowed to draw from both if that would give you a larger benefit. If your benefit at your full retirement age alone would exceed the amount that you are receiving as a disabled widow, you should hold off until your full retirement age and draw on your account at that time. If your benefits at early retirement on your account are less than the amount you are currently receiving, you gain nothing by drawing on your own account at age 62 or at your full retirement age (although at some time you may be required to do so to charge your payments to different parts of SSA).

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