SSDI Resources of Interest

nyanko_the_sane

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I created this thread to share information I found useful in my quest for SSDI benefits. Please feel free to post additional resources or ask related questions.

Almost Everything in a nutshell:
As the title implies, this article outlines what you need to know about SSDI, Social Security Disability: Everything You Need to Know

The SSDI Process:

Here is an SSA presentation on The Sequential Evaluation Process. This is the process that is used by the SSA to determine if you are disabled.

The SSA Blue Book is a listing of medical conditions and criteria used to determine disability. If your medical conditions are found in the blue book, there is a good chance you can be found disabled.

The SSA Grid is used to determine the kind of work you can do, if any, based on your RFC. Your age, education, and past work is used to determine if you are disabled. As you will find, the younger you are the more difficult it is to prove disability using the SSA grid.

Often times at a hearing before an ALJ, a vocational expert is present. SSA will tell you if a vocational expert will be at your hearing. If you want to learn more about their role in the process, here is the Vocational Expert Handbook.

Even an ALJ makes mistakes, if you can catch any mistakes in an unfavorable decision, it can make it possible to successfully appeal. Top Ten Mistakes Social Security Makes on Your Disability Case That Get Your Case Remanded

Qualifying for Medicare:

When you receive SSDI you also qualify for Medicare after two years of disability. This article outlines some of the details you need to know: Does someone on Social Security disability get free Medicare? Want even more details, read the following SSA publication: How You Earn Credits

Working While Receiving SSDI Benefits:

If you find your condition has improved enough for you to work, here is a useful page on SSA's Trial Work Period.
Here is an informative FAQ on How Self-Employment Affects Social Security Disability Benefits.
 
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nyanko_the_sane

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Tips for the Win

A solid disability case needs as much objective evidence as possible to support the medical opinions of your doctors. Your physical as well as your mental health will be considered. The SSA's blue book can help you identify conditions that will help you secure a favorable decision. ME/CFS is not in the blue book, but many of the underlying conditions are. It is important to indicate in your evidence whether treatments you tried had debilitating side-effects.

Just because your doctor states you are disabled, means nothing to the SSA. Only the SSA can decide if you are disabled. What is important is that the evidence be consistent in how it describes your disabilities and limitations. This means your healthcare professionals and even your friends/family should all be on the same page, if they are providing evidence. An ALJ will not hesitate to use an inconsistency against you. To prevent unfortunate surprises make sure you look at your doctors detailed notes, this is of utmost importance.

An ALJ can decide you are not disabled by stating that jobs exist that are within your residual functional capacity (RFC), they are required to identify at least three jobs. It does not matter to the SSA, if you can't find these jobs, are not hirable, or are too disabled to do the work. This is why it is important to have a good advocate that knows the law because they can cross-examine the vocational expert. A finding of no work is the desired outcome.
 
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Second star to the right ...
This is a lovely service to this community, and it clearly was a time, energy, and mental energy-consuming undertaking.

I know there are many members here who have tried and failed, and tried again and failed, and tried again to get approved for disability. They had no guide, and in at least 2 cases that I remember reading about here, their legal advocate was sub-par and not particularly engaged or interested in their case or its outcome.

This guide that you have created will be invaluable to them, and to who knows how many others in the future, and it's a huuuuuuge contribution to the wellbeing of innumerable members here, past, present, and future.

Am tagging in @PatJ , who might want to include this in his newcomer's welcome, if he feels that's appropriate. @Howard might also be interested .....

Thank you @nyanko_the_sane for going so far above and beyond in doing this for our community :hug::hug::hug:!!!
 
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nyanko_the_sane

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Tips for the Self-Employed

If you are self-employed don't cheat yourself out of benefits, pay your self-employment tax! If you are anything like me, you are always looking to find ways to save. Unfortunately this can lead to problems in the future especially if you need to file for disability. Having too many $0 tax years is very bad, as it not only reduces the amount of your benefits, it can also mean having to pay for your Medicare part A coverage.

If you suffer from brain fog, you may not be well enough to prepare your own business tax returns every year. In order for you to receive your Social Security and Medicare credits, you need to file and pay within three years, three months, and 15 days after the close of the preceding calendar year. After this date those credits are gone forever, so get some help and file those late returns!
 
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nyanko_the_sane

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When to Apply for SSDI Benefits

The earliest you can apply for SSDI benefits is when your impairments have lasted or are expected to last for no less than 12 consecutive months. When applying for benefits there are three specific dates to consider. Firstly is your Date First Insured (DFI) this is the first day you are deemed insured and eligible for SSDI benefits. Secondly is the date you became disabled, this the Alleged Onset Date (AOD) which can not be before your DFI. As of your AOD, you must no longer have Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). Thirdly is your Date Last Insured (DLI) this is the date your coverage lapses, you must apply for benefits on or before this date. To determine your DFI and DLI, contact the SSA. But remember, don't wait too long to file for your disability benefits.
 
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nyanko_the_sane

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SSI Benefits

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is for those that may not qualify for SSDI benefits because of a limited work history or lapsed SSDI coverage. SSI recipients receive fixed monthly payments that are federally funded. Additional SSI supplement payments are made by most states. It is possible that some may qualify for both SSI and SSDI benefits. Eligibility for the SSI program is fairly complex. Those that qualify for SSI benefits may also qualify for many low income programs, such as Housing Choice Voucher, Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, energy discounts, free cellphones, reduced cost Internet, 50% off Amazon Prime, among others.
 

nyanko_the_sane

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SSDI and Taxes

There are two things to consider when planning for your tax return after you start receiving SSDI benefits.

The first is to figure out if all your income makes your initial lumpsum large enough to be taxable. If it is and you were paid for a few years of backpay, there are methods to divide your lumpsum income over those past years. Learn more: How Is Social Security Disability Backpay Taxed?

The last is whether your state will tax your SSDI benefits. SSDI benefits are tax exempt in most states.
Learn more: Does My State Tax Social Security Disability Benefits?

Information about tax rates on SSDI income: Are Social Security Disability Benefits Taxable?

Need to break the IRA piggy bank early:
The Disability Exception to the Early Distribution Penalty Tax for Retirement Accounts

Many municipalities offer property tax exemptions to the disabled. Check with your local property tax collector's office to see what tax breaks are available for you.

Bonus fact:
Owe money to creditors? Don't worry, they can't touch your SSDI or SSI benefits.