Can a Tax Refund Affect SSI Eligibility?

If you are receiving supplemental security income from the Social Security Administration, your SSI is evaluated every month to determine if you are still eligible to receive SSI. Although receiving a state or federal tax refund usually doesn’t interfere with your SSI, the rules governing tax refunds and SSI are somewhat complicated.

Tax Refund and SSI

When Does a Tax Refund Affect Supplemental Security Income Payments?

Advanced tax credits and state and federal tax refunds do not need to be included in an SSI recipient’s resource limit. However, if the refund has not been spent within one year of receiving it and the SSI recipient goes over their allowable resources amount, they could lose part or all of their benefits. Additionally, refunds from child tax credits or earned income tax credits are exempt from mandated reporting for nine months after receiving the refunds.

Other types of income that the SSI program does not consider “true” income includes:

  • Assistance for food through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
  • Home energy assistance
  • Small amounts of money that are infrequently or irregularly received
  • Scholarships, grants or gifts meant to pay for educational expenses and tuition
  • Loans that require repayment
  • Earnings up to $7350 a year ($1820 a month) for students under 22 years of age

Tax Refunds and SSI Overpayments

The Social Security Administration considers an overpayment to be a monthly payment a recipient should not have been paid because they earned a certain amount of income for that month. If an SSI recipient does not spend a tax refund for one year and receives a regular SSI payment, the SSA may consider that payment an overpayment and expect it to be repaid. Other causes of overpayments include unreported changes in income due to marital or living status changes that exceed the SSI income limit, neglecting to report changes in a timely manner and mistakes made by the SSA.

To ensure you do not receive overpayments that must be repaid due to a tax refund, consult with a supplemental security income lawyer who is knowledgeable about complicated SSI guidelines.

Can You Get Disability Benefits if Your Child Has ADHD?

Child with ADHD

The Social Security Administration modified its listing of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) from a separate disorder to a neurodevelopmental disorder. This change encompasses a wider variety of medical conditions to facilitate receiving SSI disability benefits. In addition, the SSA has rewritten its description of ADHD symptoms that parents must prove through doctor reports and other documentation:

  • Impulsive, hyperactive behavior (inability to remain seated, talking excessively)
  • Difficulty focusing on and organizing tasks, extreme procrastination regarding completion of tasks
  • Recurring vocalizations or motor movements (rocking back and forth, repeating words and phrases, flapping arms)

Parents must also prove that a child’s ADHD/ADD imparts severe limitations in several functional areas. Some of these include interacting with people/peers, controlling behaviors, making reasonable decisions and remembering/learning information.

How Should a Parent Document Their Child’s ADHD?

To expedite SSI disability benefits for a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, parents need to submit results of psychological tests, academic reports detailing an ADHD child’s behavior/learning issues in school and physical exams if they provide supportive information of the diagnosis. Each document must include full names, contact information and addresses if a doctor, therapist or other health professional has supplied the document to the parent. Clinical documents detailing how a child’s ADHD disability has worsened over time are also helpful.

Applying for ADHD Disability Benefits

Making an appointment at your local Social Security Administration Office is recommended if you are not using an SSI attorney to handle your case. Parents applying for a child’s ADHD disability should be aware that SSA considers household resources and income when making a decision about SSI disability benefits for children. In addition, the child’s ADHD must have been ongoing for 12 months or more or is expected to interfere with a child’s ability to function normally for at least one year.

Most disability claims are initially denied, but parents have the right to appeal their application. To reduce the chance of being denied, parents of an ADHD child should consider hiring an experienced SSI lawyer who knows how to satisfy particular SSA requirements. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation with an SSI disability benefits lawyer.

Getting Disability Benefits for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The Social Security Administration adheres to the diagnostic criteria established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control regarding chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Anyone applying for social security disability benefits for chronic fatigue syndrome must prove they have suffered at least four of these six symptoms:

  • Recurring/persistent sore throat
  • Atypical/chronic headaches
  • Muscle/joint pain
  • Extreme deficits in concentration and memory
  • Tender/inflamed lymph nodes
  • Extreme fatigue/illness following physical activity that lasts at least 24 hours

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

In addition, applicants will need to show they have been thoroughly examined and tested to rule out other causes of their symptoms upon submitting paperwork for their CFS disability case.

What Is the Application Process for Social Security Disability Benefits for CFS?

In addition to all doctors’ reports, test results and other clinically pertinent information, the SSA needs documentation of descriptions of functional limitations that applicants and their physicians have noted from the time an applicant first began having symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. Examples of functions the SSA deems as mental or work-related include the ability to walk, stand, lift, remembering and carrying out instructions and using appropriate judgment when making decisions.

Nearly 90 percent of successful CFS disability cases result with applicants being awarded monthly benefits according to SSA’s “medical-vocational allowance” guidelines. This allowance considers an applicant’s age, work history, education level and their residual functional capacity when determining if the applicant can work full time. RFCs are descriptions of an applicant’s maximum mental and physical abilities despite their other impairments.

What Is a Medically Determinable Impairment?

Social Security Ruling 14-1p states that while chronic fatigue syndrome can be disabling, it must be proven to be a medically determinable impairment (MDR) using laboratory findings or other medical tests. The SSA also accepts the following to establish an MDR:

  • Elevated antibodies in the bloodstream indicating Epstein-Barr virus
  • Abnormal brain scans
  • Results of psychological tests
  • Tests showing hypotension (neurally mediated)

Applicants seeking social security disability benefits for chronic fatigue syndrome will also need to provide enough third-party, subjective and clinical reports clearly outlining the extent and prolonged existence of CFS symptoms.

CFS is one of the more difficult disabilities to get approved by the SSA. Legal assistance can significantly improve the chance your CFS disability case is accepted. Contact an SSI lawyer today for help with your case.

Can you get social security benefits back after they are withheld?

The full retirement age right now is 66, but you can receive benefits as early as 62. By receiving early retirement, you are withholding some of you monthly payment. You could be getting a third more if you wait until full retirement age. Essentially, you will be getting a 50 percent penalty on your monthly benefits if you want to receive them before the age of 66. If you do wait until full retirement age, you will be allowed to earn up to $41,880 before your income starts affecting your SS benefits.

Can you get social security benefits back after they are withheld?

For most people, Social Security Disability benefits cannot be taxed. This is especially true for both those who also make additional income as well as those who just depend on SSD benefits. If your spouse has another source of income, then it is likely that your SSD benefits can be taxed. You will have to pay taxes on roughly half of your benefits if you make more than $25,000, but no more than $34,000. You could tax up to 85 percent of your income if you make more than $34,000 and you are single.

If your income exceeds the Social Security limit, your disability benefits may be taxed. Generally, an individual will pay roughly 10 to 15 percent on taxes and those with a higher income will pay about 33 to 35 percent on 85 percent of their taxes. You will find that most states don’t tax disability benefits, but there are some that will tax them. If you end up receiving a lump-sum for backpay, then you might need to tax this amount during the same year you received it which can increase your tax rate.

Your working income could make your Social Security Disability benefits taxable. For those who file taxes early, Social Security uses a combination of the income you make to figure out your monthly payment.

The combined income is figured by adding these sources together:
● Adjusted gross income
● Interest that isn’t taxable
● 50 percent of SS benefits

If this a current situation you are dealing with, you should reach out to a Social Security Disability lawyer. They will be able to answer any questions as well as help with anything during the application process.

Know What to Do When Social Security Beneficiary Dies

If you have a relative who is collecting Social Security Benefits, it’s important to know what to do when that person dies. It’s a painful time, but it’s important to know specifics when it comes to these benefits. This can be a concern for many people, so you need to know what to do when this eventually happens.

What to Do When Social Security Beneficiary Dies

What to do when a Social Security Beneficiary dies:

  • You need to let the Social Security Administration know.
    When a person dies, it’s important to let the Social Security Administration know as soon as possible. In most cases, the funeral director will do this, but you do need to give this person the deceased’s Social Security number in order to report it.

    You can contact the SSA through the website or through the automated phone service at 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778, if you’re deaf or hard of hearing. If you need to speak to someone, you can do so between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

  • It’s possible that you may still be able to receive benefits.
    If the deceased worked long enough, you may still receive benefits. Contact the SSA to verify what benefits you are still eligible for.

    You may be able to receive a one-time payment of $255 as a surviving spouse who was living with the deceased. If living apart, you may still be eligible for this benefit. If there is no surviving spouse, a child who is eligible for benefits may be able to get this payment.

    Certain family members may be eligible for monthly benefits. These include a widow or widower 60 or older, a disabled widow or widower 50 or older, a widow or widower caring for the deceased’s child under 16 or disabled, an unmarried child under 18 or disabled, other children under certain circumstances, parents 62 or older that depended on the deceased for at least half of their support, or a surviving divorced spouse in certain circumstances.

  • You may have to return payment.
    If the deceased was receiving Social Security Benefits, you need to return the money received for the month of death and any later months. Eligible family members may be able to receive death benefits for the month that the beneficiary died.

Make sure to keep the tips above in mind when it comes to the Social Security Benefits of a family member. Contact us with any questions.

How Does the SSA Determine Retirement Benefit Payment Amounts?

Most American’s spend their entire adult lives working hard at our jobs. Our reward at the end of our long careers is the right to collect Social Security retirement benefits. These benefits are meant to provide income for people after they stop working so they have a means to pay their bills. You can be eligible for retirement benefits if you worked enough quarters at a job that requires you to pay into the Social Security system. Your monthly retirement benefit amount is determined by the amount you have paid into the system throughout your working years. Here is some important information about how your Social Security benefit is determined.

How Much Will Social Security Pay Me

Qualifying for Benefits

You must have earned at least 40 credits to qualify for Social Security retirement benefits.
You earn one credit for every $1,300 you earn. But, you can only earn a maximum of four credits per year.

Factors that Affect Your Benefit Amount

The primary factor for determining your retirement benefit is the amount of money you earned while you were working. The Social Security Administration (SSA) looks at the average amount of money you made in your 35 highest-earning work years before you turned 62. The SSA also looks at the age at which you start taking your benefits and any other sources of income you may have, such as a pension, when determining your benefit amount.

Factors That do not Affect Your Benefit Amount

Your benefit amount is not necessarily determined by the number of years you have worked and paid into the Social Security system. The SSA only looks at the 35 years in which you made the most money. Similarly, adjusting the amount of hours you work or accepting less pay as you near the end of your career will not negatively affect your benefit amount.

Calculating Your Social Security Amount

You can estimate the amount of your monthly retirement benefit by following these five steps:

  • Determine your total earnings. The SSA looks at the 35 years in which you made the most money, up to a maximum of $127,200 annually. Any years that you did not work count as zero income.
  • Divide the amount in step one by 420 months (35 years X 12 months a year) and round down to the nearest dollar. This number is your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME).
  • Determine your benefit amount at the age you are first eligible to receive full benefits. (90% of your first $885 of AIME) + 32% of AIME above $885 and through $5,336) + (15% of AIME above $5,336)
  • Determine your Benefit if you retire early. If you retire early and want to collect benefits, the amount you receive will be reduced.
  • Determine any reductions for earned income while you receive benefits. If you make any kind of income while you also receive retirement benefits, your payment amount will be reduced. For every two dollars you make, your retirement benefit will be reduced by one dollar.

If you have any questions about the amount of retirement benefits you will receive, contact the Clauson Law Firm today.

Can drug addicts and alcoholics get disability benefits?

If you’ve suffered from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, or you know someone who has, then you already know the devastating effect it can have on your ability to live a full, normal life. Because of addiction, many people find it difficult to hold down a full-time job. In this situation, you might be wondering if a program like Social Security Disability (SSDI) could help you. You might be wondering, are there disability benefits for drug addicts?

Disability Benefits for Alcoholics and Drug Addicts

In short, the answer to this question is no. While there are benefits available for a great many things, an addiction problem like drugs or alcohol is currently not covered. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s no hope. While the addiction itself might not be covered – even though it has severely impacted your life – it’s possible that there are physical or mental side effects to your addiction that are, in fact, covered.

It is well-known that chronic drug use can cause damage to your mind and body. Even if you are finally able to break the addiction, these impairments might never go away. It’s these conditions that SSDI might still be able to cover. While the SSA no longer carries a specific list of drug-related conditions that qualify, you can still apply for SSDI benefits if you can show you suffer from any of these long-term conditions. This list of conditions includes, but is not limited to, brain damage, liver damage, gastritis, pancreatitis, peripheral neuropathy, seizures, depression, anxiety disorder, or personality disorder.

To be considered eligible, however, the same conditions apply as for anyone applying to receive benefits. You must first be able to prove that you suffer from this condition. This is done through the submission of medical records and documents. You must also be able to show that this is a long-term condition (lasting for at least 12 months) and that it has severely impacted your ability to work or make money – in fact, your income can not exceed the limit of $1,170 per month.

This information is crucial if you are going to build your case, and it is vital that you keep thorough and complete records. Once you have them, you file your claim like everyone else and wait for an answer.

So, while there might not be specific disability benefits for drug addicts, you can still qualify for SSDI payments under certain conditions. If you would like to know more, please contact us today.

Mental Illness and Disability Benefits

There are many different conditions that qualify for SSI disability benefits. Many times people may think of physical conditions first, but mental illnesses can be just as, if not more, debilitating. There are a variety of mental illnesses that are covered and qualify for SSI disability benefits. It’s important to know which of these qualify and how to go about proving that yours does as well.

Mental Illness and Disability Benefits

When evaluating your condition, whether it is mental or physical, it is imperative to consult the listings on the ssa.gov website. This lists many of the conditions that will qualify. If yours is not listed, you may still qualify, but you will need to prove that your condition is as debilitating as others that are listed. In terms of mental disorders, there are 11 different categories.

What mental illnesses qualify for disability benefits?

  • Neurocognitive disorders.
  • Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders.
  • Depressive, bipolar and related disorders.
  • Intellectual disorder.
  • Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders.
  • Somatic symptom and related disorders.
  • Personality and impulse-control disorders.
  • Autism spectrum disorder.
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders.
  • Eating disorders.
  • Trauma- and stressor-related disorders.

How to prove that your condition qualifies:

  • Duration of condition.
    In order for your condition to qualify, it needs to be expected to last for at least a year or result in death.
  • Qualifying condition.
    Your condition must be one of the ones listed or be of equal severity.
  • Severity of condition.
    Your condition needs to be severe according to Social Security Administration standards.
  • Affect of condition on ability to work.
    Your condition needs to prevent you from being able to work. This is the main point of qualifying for SSI disability and collecting benefits. It has to be because you’re unable to work and provide for your own living.
  • Medical evidence.
    In order to prove the points above, you need to have medical evidence to back them up. It’s imperative to be organized in your documentation. You will need to provide information on the health facilities you’ve visited, your official diagnosis, treatments and medications you’ve tried and dates of visits. You should also obtain a statement from your doctor about your condition as well as provide one from yourself that states why your condition prevents you from working.

Many mental illnesses qualify for SSI disability, but it’s important to understand the process. If you have any questions, please contact us.

What Will Social Security Look Like in 20 Years If Congress Does Nothing?

Millions of Americans depend on money from the Social Security system to help make ends meet from month to month. Whether it’s collecting retirement money after a life of paying into the system, or collecting money for disability after an accident or illness made working impossible, that money is essential for living. In the next twenty years, more and more Americans will be depending on the SSA for their income needs. But what will happen over the course of those twenty years? Can Americans today expect the same level of benefits two decades down the road? As you can probably expect, the answer to that isn’t easy.

Social Security Look Like in 20 Years

As things stand right now, Social Security is in danger. While there is plenty of money now, and even a little bit of a surplus, recent changes mean that the surplus will slowly start to run out. If recent projections hold out, then the surplus of money in the Social Security fund will run out in 2034. At that time, there could be an issue.

Social Security was originally designed to take in as much money as it pays out. Over the years, though, the program has stretched to the point where this isn’t true. So, when the existing surplus finally runs out in 2034, Social Security will not be able to bring in enough money to completely fund itself. Current projections estimate that the SSA will only be able to bring in about 79% of the money that it needs to pay out to retirees, the disabled and other beneficiaries.

This is where it gets complicated. Because this possibility is still almost twenty years in the future, nothing about it is truly certain. As that deadline appears, who knows what sort of measures might be enacted by the government to fix the issue? Because of that, everything is uncertain. However, without those changes, it’s very possible that beneficiaries will see their payments cut by as much as 21%. In addition, the retirement age could be increased, making it take longer for people to start collecting their benefits. Or, the scope of Social Security could be lessened to stop as many different types of payments from going into effect.

Basically, as it stands right now, the SSA faces a potential problem. While there is plenty of time for the government to fix the issue, the real question is, will they? Or will they let this issue drag on to the point where it’s too late to do anything about it?

When Do Most Americans Claim Social Security?

Every year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) increases the full retirement age at which you can collect benefits. This began several years ago to help the beleaguered benefit system. In 2018, the age will increase by two months to age 66 and four months. SSA bases it on your birth year, so the 2018 adjustment affects people born in 1956 and later—and there are a lot of them.

The vast number of baby boomers who are retiring creates a financial challenge for the SSA, but so is the fact that most Americans are electing to claim SSA retirement benefits before reaching the full retirement age. Over 60 percent of men are and nearly 75 percent of women are, too. No one is claiming benefits late, either. If they don’t claim early, they’re claiming benefits at the exact retirement age possible.

One of the main reasons that people are claiming benefits early is because the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) hasn’t kept up with rising inflation. In 2018, seniors are expected to get the largest COLA adjustment they’ve seen in years, but it is still not enough to keep up with rising costs, particularly in health care. While any increase is welcome, seniors will never be able to catch up on COLA increases alone. They’re on fixed incomes, and that’s why people are opting in for early retirement benefits.

Your overall SSA retirement benefit is based on your lifetime earnings. SSA applies a formula for inflation and then determines your primary payout amount that you’ll receive at the full retirement age. Just know that SSA offers an eight year window from age 62 to 70 for claims. Claiming early comes with fairly strict penalties. Let’s say your age is 67 for the full benefit, but you claim early at age 62. The compounded effect is that your benefits are reduced by 30 percent. While an early claim can get you short-term cash, the long-term reduction in your overall retirement income can have a significant impact.

It’s even better if you can claim your benefit late, after you’ve reached full retirement age. This can mean an eight percent permanent increase in your income.

Every individual is different, and has reasons for claiming early or late. Just consider where you are in life and work out the pros and cons of claiming early, on time or late.