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How To Qualify For Social Security Benefits

What Conditions Qualify For Social Security Disability Insurance

How To Apply For Social Security Benefits: What You Need To Know

There is no set list of approved disabilities, but the Social Security Blue Book, also known as Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, is an online directory of physical and mental health conditions that automatically qualify if you meet the stringent requirements for diagnosis. For adults, they are broadly split into 14 categories.

  • Blood disorders like sickle cell anemia, thrombosis and hemophilia
  • Cancer, including Leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, breast cancer and prostate cancer
  • Cardiovascular illnesses, such as congenital heart disease and heart failure
  • Cognitive andmental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder, dementia, depression and intellectual disabilities
  • Congenital disorders that affect multiple body systems, such as non-mosaic Down syndrome
  • Digestive system illnesses, such as bowel or liver disease
  • Endocrine disorders, such as diabetes, thyroid disease, hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia
  • Genitourinary disorders like chronic kidney disease
  • Immune system diseases like HIV, inflammatory arthritis and lupus
  • Musculoskeletal issues that are congenital or acquired, such as spinal disorders or amputations
  • Neurological disorders, such as Parkinsonâs disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and traumatic brain injuries
  • Respiratory illnesses, such as asthma, cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Special sense and speech disorders, such as impaired hearing, sight and speech
  • Skin disorders, such as burns, dermatitis and ichthyosis

Who Is Eligible For Social Security Retirement Benefits

The U.S. Congress passed the 1935 Social Security Act as a way to supplement retirement earnings for primary working Americans. The original law also included the nations first unemployment insurance program as well as several health and welfare programs. Shortly thereafter, the law was changed to add survivor benefits for spouses and children, and in 1956 disability benefits were also added.

The Social Security Administration now serves 60 million Americans who will receive $870 billion in benefits in 2015.

The administration of such a large benefits program can be complicated at times, with numerous special instances, exceptions and nuances that can impact how benefits are disbursed to recipients.

This guide will introduce applicants to the basics of applying for Social Security retirement benefits and answer many of the common questions that arise when first considering to apply for benefits.

It will also address many special circumstances that can arise involving spouses and children, specific circumstances regarding timing, amounts, and maximizing benefits while also offering a comprehensive list of resources that may prove valuable throughout the Social Security retirement benefits process.

Your May Have To Pay Taxes On Social Security Benefits

Most people know that Social Security is funded by a tax on earnings, currently 6.2% for the employee . But some retirees dont realize that you may well have to pay income tax on Social Security benefits when it comes time to claim them. Benefits lost their tax-free status in 1984, and the income thresholds for triggering tax on benefits havent been increased since then.

It doesnt take a lot of income for your Social Security benefits to be taxed. Your benefits wont be taxed if your provisional income is less than $25,000 if youre single or $32,000 if youre married. If youre single and your provisional income is between $25,000 and $34,000, or married filing jointly with provisional income between $32,000 and $44,000, up to 50% of your Social Security benefits may be taxable. If your provisional income is more than $34,000 on a single return or $44,000 on a joint return, up to 85% of your benefits may be taxable.

The Social Security Administration says about 40% of beneficiaries pay taxes on their benefits. Since the thresholds arent adjusted for inflation, the number of beneficiaries who pay taxes on Social Security benefits increases every year. The Social Security Trustees annual report estimates that taxes on Social Security will total $45.1 billion in 2022, up from $34.5 billion in 2021.

You may also have to paystateincome taxes on your Social Security benefits. See our list of the 12 States That Tax Social Security Benefits.

Recommended Reading: Social Security Benefits And Retirement Age

Benefits For Your Divorced Spouse

If you are divorced, your ex-spouse can receive benefits based on your record if:

  • Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer.
  • Your ex-spouse is unmarried.
  • Your ex-spouse is age 62 or older.
  • The benefit that your ex-spouse is entitled to receive based on their own work is less than the benefit they would receive based on your work.
  • You are entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

The Basics About Survivors Benefits

How To Apply For Social Security Retirement Benefits

. If you are working and paying into Social Security, some of those taxes you pay are for survivors benefits. Your spouse, children, and parents could be eligible for benefits based on your earnings.

. You and your family could be eligible for benefits based on the earnings of a worker who died. The deceased person must have worked long enough to qualify for benefits.

For more information, please read .

Also Check: How Does Social Security Calculate Benefits

You Can Claim Social Security Benefits Earned By Your Ex

The end of a marriage doesnt spell the end of being able to get get a Social Security benefit based on your former spouses earnings. You can still receive a benefit based on his or her record instead of a benefit based on your own work record, so long as you were married at least 10 years, you are 62 or older, and you are currently unmarried. And guess what: If you’ve made multiple trips to the altar, you can pick which spouse’s benefits you want to claim, based on what’s most beneficial to you.

Like a regular spousal benefit, you can get up to 50% of an ex-spouses benefitless if you claim before full retirement age. And the beauty of it is that your ex never needs to know because you apply for the benefit directly through the Social Security Administration. Taking a benefit on your ex-spouses record has no effect on his or her benefit or the benefit of your exs new spouse. And unlike a regular spousal benefit, if your ex qualifies for benefits but has yet to apply, you can still start collecting Social Security based on the exs record, though you must have been divorced for at least two years.

Note: Ex-spouses can also take a survivor benefit if their ex died after the divorce, and, like any survivor benefit, it will be worth up to 100% of what the ex-spouse received. If you remarry after age 60, you are still eligible for the survivor benefit.

Fact #: Social Security Provides A Guaranteed Progressive Benefit That Keeps Up With Increases In The Cost Of Living

Social Security benefits are based on the earnings on which people pay Social Security payroll taxes. The higher their earnings , the higher their benefit.

Social Security benefits are progressive: they represent a higher proportion of a workers previous earnings for workers at lower earnings levels. For example, benefits for a low earner retiring at age 65 in 2021 replace about half of their prior earnings. But benefits for a high earner replace about 30 percent of prior earnings, though they are larger in dollar terms than those for the low-wage worker.

Many employers have shifted from offering traditional defined-benefit pension plans, which guarantee a certain benefit level upon retirement, toward defined-contribution plans s), which pay a benefit based on a workers contributions and the rate of return they earn. Social Security, therefore, will be most workers only source of guaranteed retirement income that is not subject to investment risk or financial market fluctuations.

Once someone starts receiving Social Security, their benefits increase to keep pace with inflation, helping to ensure that people do not fall into poverty as they age. In contrast, most private pensions and annuities are not adjusted for inflation.

Don’t Miss: Social Security Disability Spousal Benefits Loophole

Social Security Child’s Insurance Payment Schedule

If your child is eligible and can start receiving benefits, the payment schedule will follow yours. Note that you’ll receive the payments separately but on the same day to help differentiate the benefits.

  • If you started receiving Social Security benefits before May 1997, or if you receive both Social Security and SSI, their Social Security payment will arrive on the third day of each month.
  • If your birthday falls between the 1st and 10th of the month, their payment will be sent out on the second Wednesday of the month.
  • If your birthday falls between the 11th and 20th of the month, their payment will be sent out on the third Wednesday of the month.
  • If your birthday falls between the 21st and 31st of the month, their payment will be sent out on the fourth Wednesday of the month.

Here’s the full Social Security payment schedule. For more, use our ultimate Social Security cheat sheet as a guide to your benefits.

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If You’re Not Sure Why You Received A Payment

Social Security Spousal Benefits – MADE EASY to Understand

If you receive a check or direct deposit payment from the Treasury Department and do not know what its for, contact the regional financial center that issued it. Only the agency that authorized the payment can explain why you received it.

If you received a check, look for the RFCs city and state at the top center. Then contact that RFC to find out which federal agency authorized the payment. It will be one of these:

If you received payment byelectronic funds transfer , or direct deposit, follow the directions under Find Information About a Payment.

Use the Treasury Check Verification System to verify that the check is legitimate and issued by the government.

Also Check: Social Security Survivor Benefits Income Limit

What If I Live Abroad

Most U.S. citizens who live in foreign countries after they retire can qualify for Social Security benefits. However, the U.S. government will not send Social Security payments to those living in Cuba or North Korea. Additionally, Americans living in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan must qualify for an exception in order to receive benefits while living abroad.

How To Get A Social Security Card

  • Gather your documents. Learn what documents you’ll need to get a card. Select your situation:
  • Original, replacement, or corrected card
  • U.S. born citizen, foreign-born U.S. citizen, or noncitizen
  • Apply online for a replacement card. Apply online if youre not changing anything on your card and you are eligible. This option is available in most states. You will need to make a my Social Security account first. Or complete an application. If you can not apply online, fill out an application and return it to the SSA. Find out where to take it in person or mail it.
  • Also Check: Cost Of Providing Employee Benefits

    Special Rules For People Who Are Blind Or Have Low Vision

    We consider you to be legally blind under Social Security rules if your vision cannot be corrected to better than 20/200 in your better eye. We will also consider you legally blind if your visual field is 20 degrees or less, even with a corrective lens. Many people who meet the legal definition of blindness still have some sight and may be able to read large print and get around without a cane or a guide dog.

    If you do not meet the legal definition of blindness, you may still qualify for disability benefits. This may be the case if your vision problems alone or combined with other health problems prevent you from working.

    There are several special rules for people who are blind that recognize the severe impact of blindness on a person’s ability to work. For example, the monthly earnings limit for people who are blind is generally higher than the limit that applies to non-blind workers with disabilities.

    In 2022, the monthly earnings limit is $2,260.

    Lost Or Stolen Federal Payments

    How To Apply For Social Security Disability Benefits

    Report your lost, missing, or stolen federal check to the agency that issued the payment. It’s usually one of these paying agencies. If your documentation indicates it’s a different agency, and you need its contact information, look in the A-Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies.

    To get an update on your claim, contact the Treasury Department Philadelphia Financial Center at 1-855-868-0151, option 1.

    Also Check: Apply For Social Security Retirement Benefits

    The Minimum Social Security Benefit At Age 62

    Remember that retired workers will see a decrease in their benefit amount if they decide to start their benefits early. The same applies to the special minimum benefit. So, what is the minimum Social Security benefit at 62? We already learned that some workers with only 11 years of coverage would receive a monthly payment of less than $50. However, this assumes that the worker starts receiving benefits upon reaching full retirement age. Those who begin their benefits at age 62 will see a 30% reduction in their benefit payments.

    This reduction applies to all those who take Social Security early including both normal retirement benefits and the special minimum PIA. So, assume that your PIA would be the full special minimum of $1,033.50. If you start receiving your benefits at age 62, you will see a 30% reduction and end up with a benefit amount of only $723.45.

    The same applies to the other end of the spectrum. Assume you only have 11 years of coverage and will receive the minimum benefit of $49.40. Starting your benefits at age 62 means you would only see a monthly payment of $34.58. As you can see, this amount would be well below the poverty level, so you would need some additional sources of retirement income to make ends meet. If you are on Medicare, then your Part B premium would take your entire Social Security check plus additional money.

    Beware The Social Security Earnings Test

    Bringing in too much money in earned income can cost you if you continue to work after claiming Social Security benefits early. With what is commonly known as the Social Security earnings test for annual income, you will forfeit $1 in benefits for every $2 you make over the earnings limit, which in 2022 is $19,560. Once you are past full retirement age, the earnings test no longer applies, and you can make as much money as you want with no impact on benefits.

    Any Social Security benefits forfeited to the earnings test are not lost forever. At your full retirement age, the Social Security Administration will recalculate your benefits to take into account benefits lost to the test. For example, if you claim benefits at 62 and over the next four years lose one full years worth of benefits to the earnings test, at a full retirement age of 66 your benefits will be recomputed and increased as if you had taken benefits three years early, instead of four. That basically means the lifetime reduction in benefits would be 20% rather than 25%.

    Also Check: Divorce And Social Security Benefits

    Fact #: Social Security Lifts Millions Of Older Adults Above The Poverty Line

    Without Social Security benefits, about 4 in 10 adults aged 65 and older would have incomes below the poverty line, all else being equal, according to official estimates based on the 2021 Current Population Survey. Social Security benefits lift more than 16 million older adults above the poverty line, these estimates show.

    An important study on retirement income from the U.S. Census Bureau that matches Census estimates to administrative data suggests that the official estimates overstate older people’s reliance on Social Security. The study finds that in 2012, 3 in 10 older adults would have been poor without Social Security, and that the program lifted more than 10 million older adults above the poverty line.

    No matter how it is measured, its clear that Social Security lifts millions of older adults above the poverty line and dramatically reduces their poverty rate.

    Apply For Benefits Online

    Who Is Eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits

    You should apply for disability benefits as soon as you develop a disability. Follow these easy steps to apply online for disability:

    • To start your application, go to our Apply for Benefits page, and read and agree to the Terms of Service. Click Next.
    • On that page, review the Getting Ready section to make sure you have the information you need to apply.
    • Select Start A New Application.
    • We will ask a few questions about who is filling out the application.
    • You will then sign in to your personal mySocial Security account, or you will be prompted to create one.
    • Complete the application.

    You can use the online application to apply for disability benefits if you:

    • Are age 18 or older.
    • Are not currently receiving benefits on your own Social Security record.
    • Are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.
    • Have not been denied for disability in the last 60 days.
    • Note: If your application was recently denied, our application is a starting point to request a review of the determination we made.

    You may be able to file online for SSI at the same time that you file for SSDI benefits. Once you complete the online process described above, a Social Security representative will contact you if we need additional information.

    Also Check: How To Claim Retirement Benefits

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    Earn Ssa Work Credits In Some Countries

    You may not have enough credits from your work in the United States to qualify for retirement benefits. But, you may be able to count your work credits from another country. The SSA has agreements with 24 countries. If you earned credits in one of those countries, they can help you qualify for U.S. benefits.

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