Getting approved to receive Social Security Disability benefits can be a long and anxiety-filled process. Now that you won your claim, let us look at some topics you need to be aware of to make sure you maximize your benefits and avoid mistakes that might jeopardize your continued SSDI payments.
When will I get my first check?
There is a five-month waiting period before you can receive your first Social Security Disability payment. The date you became disabled will start the clock running. So, if your “disability onset date” is determined to be 8 months before you were approved for benefits, then you can expect a retroactive payment for the 3 months that elapsed since your five-month waiting period ended.
How will I receive the funds?
You will be paid by means of an electronic direct deposit into your bank account, or you can arrange to be paid by the Direct Express® card.
1). Direct deposit is the easiest and most common means of payment. It means that your money is electronically deposited into your bank account without your needing to do anything once you sign up. There are no checks to cash or trips to the bank necessary. You can contact the bank or the Social Security Administration for help setting up Direct Deposit.
2). Direct Express® cards are simply debit cards. Your monthly SSDI benefit amount is deposited into your Direct Express® account. You can use your card anywhere that accepts Mastercard®, at doctors’ offices, stores, markets, online, or virtually anywhere else. You can even get cash back at a register when you make a purchase. To sign up for the card, you can call the Treasury Electronic Payment Solution Contact Center at 1-800-333-1795. Or you can go to www.GoDirect.org. Social Security can also help you sign up.
Do I owe taxes on the SSDI payments I receive?
The answer to this question depends on your situation. For most Social Security Disability recipients, their SSDI benefit accounts for most, if not all, the income they receive. Only people whose income is more than the threshold set by the IRS may owe some tax.
The IRS counts half of your SSDI benefits and adds that to the rest of the income from all sources to determine if your income totaled more than $25,000 if you file as an individual. If you are married and filing jointly, the IRS counts half of your benefits and adds the total income of you and your spouse to see if you earned more than $32,000. If the total income exceeds those thresholds, then some tax may be owed.
You should always consult with a qualified tax advisor to get a definite answer to any questions you have about tax liability.
Do I qualify for Medicare?
In most cases, SSDI recipients have a 24-month waiting period before they are eligible for Medicare coverage. For recipients who had previous periods of disability, they may gain earlier Medicare coverage if their total months of disability satisfy the waiting period and the new period of disability is within 60 months of the end of the previous disability period.
The reality is that so many different circumstances apply to individual cases that many exceptions to the general rule exist. For example, people with End-Stage Renal Disease or Lou Gehrig’s disease have special early access to Medicare. Other recipients may still be covered by COBRA, or a recent employers’ continuing health insurance, or through VA benefits. To get the answer to your questions about your own eligibility, you can contact Medicare directly at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
How long will I be able to continue receiving Social Security Disability benefits?
The law mandates that the Social Security Administration conduct periodic reviews to determine if you are still impaired and eligible for Social Security benefits. All SSDI and SSI recipients are reviewed. The frequency and potential impact of these periodic reviews vary depending on the nature and permanence of your disability.
There are two types of reviews.
Continuing Eligibility Reviews
These reviews may occur at three-year increments. The purpose of the review is for the SSA to determine if your medical condition has improved significantly so that you may no longer be considered disabled. In cases where one’s disability is a long-term or permanent condition; these reviews can be mere formalities. For those whose disability might be more likely to improve over time, the Continuing Eligibility Review can result in a finding that they can return to work and are no longer disabled.
The Redetermination review is more involved than the Continuing Eligibility review. Rather than focusing only on a recipient’s medical condition, these reviews examine every part of the recipient’s eligibility for benefits. The availability of all resources, financial income, expenses, and other technical requirements under the applicable regulations for eligibility is reviewed.