Posts in:June, 2017

Retirement vs. Social Security Disability Insurance

Posted June 20, 2017 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

retired couple

Many people are not aware of the difference between Social Security Retirement and Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Most American workers pay into Social Security during their working years. When they pay their taxes, they are actually paying in to both the retirement and disability insurance programs. When people say they are collecting “Social Security”, they are usually referring to retirement through Social Security. However, Social Security can pay workers benefits if they become disabled before their full retirement age.

Retirement Benefits

When a worker decides to collect their retirement benefit under Social Security, they can choose when they want to begin collecting their benefits. There are qualifications that must be met in order to begin receiving these benefits:


  1. The claimant must have 40 lifetime “working credits” in order to collect benefits. This equates to at least 10 years of full time employment, as workers may be awarded 4 credits per year.
  2. The claimant must be at least 62 years of age (or 60 if they are collecting on a disabled or deceased spouse’s record).


The retirement benefit amount depends on how much the claimant earned during the years that they worked. If they choose to collect their retirement before their full retirement age under Social Security’s guidelines, they will get a lower benefit amount. Full retirement age under Social Security varies by year of birth. For instance, for someone that was born in 1957, full retirement age is 66 and 6 months. If the claimant chooses to collect early retirement immediately upon turning 62, the benefit would be approximately 25% lower than if they chose to wait until their full retirement age. The penalty deduction is greater the earlier the retirement is elected.

Disability Insurance Benefits

Social Security can also pay benefits to workers that become disabled and can no longer work. These benefits generally pay the worker the full amount that they would receive if they were at full retirement age. Unlike temporary or partial disability programs that a worker can be eligible for through their employer or state, Social Security will only pay benefits to someone that they find permanently and totally disabled under their rules. There are qualifications that must be met in order to receive disability insurance benefits:


  1. The claimant must have 20 working credits within the last 10 years before their disability began. This means the applicant must have paid into Social Security at least 5 of the last 10 years before they became disabled.
  2. The claimant must be found disabled by Social Security.


Social Security uses a 5-step sequential process to determine whether or not a claimant is disabled:


  1. Is the claimant working? If they are, their earnings cannot exceed a certain amount each month.
  2. Are the conditions severe? The conditions have to keep the claimant from performing their job for over 12 months.
  3. Do the condition(s) meet or equal any listings under Social Security? Social Security has a list of conditions they consider severe enough to keep a claimant from performing their job duties. Social Security reviews certain medical conditions to determine disability.
  4. Can the claimant perform the work duties of their previous employment? Social Security looks at a claimant’s previous employment to see if they are able to perform any of those jobs. If they feel they cannot perform any of their previous jobs, they may find them disabled.
  5. Can the claimant perform any other type of work? Social Security will look at other jobs that the claimant may be able to do in the present economy. They will use previous work experience, education, and age to determine this. If they feel that the claimant can perform other work, they may not find them disabled.


A claimant may collect early retirement benefits while they have a disability claim pending with Social Security. If the claimant is then found disabled, their benefit amount will be adjusted, and they will receive their full benefit amount. If, however, they are not found disabled, their benefits will be frozen at the amount they were receiving when they first began receiving these benefits.

To find out what your retirement benefits will be, you can go to

Source: pub. No. 05-10029, pub. No. 05-10035

By: Peggy Taylor of Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Social Security Disability Claims After Death

Posted June 16, 2017 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Unfortunately, many Social Security Disability applicants die before they are awarded benefits. Many people who are eligible for benefits never apply before dying, while others die during the many months it takes to get disability benefits approved. In some cases, family and heirs can start a disability claim or continue one that is already open. Who receives any potential benefits depends on what SSA disability programs the deceased claimant was eligible for.


Because SSDI benefits are based on taxpayer contributions rather than poverty, Social Security is more liberal when it comes to filing and continuing posthumous disability claims. However, before the SSA pays beneficiaries, they will first honor any legitimate liens on the deceased worker’s Social Security record for child support and money owed to other federal agencies like the IRS, VA, SSA, Dept. of Education, or USDA. Social Security may notify any obvious beneficiaries (like a spouse or child noted in the file) if there is a claim still pending at the reconsideration or hearing levels, but they are not obligated to do so. If the deceased claimant had not yet filed an application, then the beneficiary would have to file within 3 months after the worker’s death (or if, before death, there was a written statement sent to the SSA stating that the worker intended to file for disability benefits, this gives beneficiaries a “protective filing” date and up to six months to apply for benefits). However, the SSA may refuse to take the application if the decedent had not been disabled for more than 5 months before their death, or if they were performing gainful work before death.


SSI claims generally cannot be started after a person dies. But, if a person contacted SSA and made an inquiry about filing for disability benefits before he or she died, a beneficiary can file an application within 60 days of the “protective filing” date. If a person with a pending SSI disability claim dies before benefits are awarded, generally only a spouse living in the same household can pursue the SSI claim and collect money that would have been awarded to the applicant. Not all states have their own disability benefit programs, but those that do (including California, New York, New Jersey, and Hawaii) can actually continue an SSI claim themselves if the SSI applicant signed an agreement to repay the state any SSI benefits received. A state can also pursue an SSI death claim to establish retroactive Medicaid eligibility so that it can bill Medicaid for past medical treatment costs that the state paid for.

How Can a Social Security Advocate or Lawyer Help?

If the deceased applicant was already represented by a lawyer or Social Security advocate, that person continues to have authority to file appeals on behalf of the applicant. He or she can help identify and find beneficiaries and counsel them about their rights. If the deceased applicant was not represented, a beneficiary can hire a representative to help continue the claim, advocate for a favorable decision, and ensure payments after an award are properly distributed. An experienced representative can also look into other benefits and claims that the SSA may not discuss with beneficiaries. For example, if the deceased worker had a disabled child over 18, that child may be eligible for disabled adult child (DAC) benefits and may need help proving their case.

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®

What is Form 3368?

Posted June 9, 2017 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

The Adult Disability Report form, which is also known as Form SSA 3368, is one of the first and most important forms of a disability claim. This report is the cornerstone of your disability application with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and provides Disability Determination Services (DDS) with information that they need to review your claim and make a decision on your eligibility for benefits.

Whether you complete the Adult Disability Report online or as a hard copy document, or at the local SSA office or with the assistance of a disability representative, this form covers all of the essential details required for an SSA disability application.

It serves as the primary document in your disability claim and drives how the DDS considers your eligibility for benefits. This makes form SSA 3368 one of the most critical pieces of your disability application, since the answers you provide on this report affect every step of the disability review process.

How the DDS uses Form 3368

The DDS is tasked with reviewing your disability application to decide if you meet the SSA’s eligibility rules for disability benefits. The disability examiner assigned to your claim will use form 3368 to get:

-Contact information for your various healthcare providers, allowing them to obtain copies of your medical records for review

-Details of your former employment, including job duties, rate of pay, and contact information for former employers

-Information on other people that know about your disability and can potentially help with your application, like friends, family members, or social workers, for example

-Details of your education, job training, and other qualifications, which play a part in how “employable” you are, given the limitations any serious medical condition places on you

-Specifics about all of your medical conditions, including diagnosis and treatment details

These are just a few examples of the crucial information that the adult disability report conveys about your circumstances, including the limitations you experience due to your medical condition(s).

Getting Help with Your Disability Report

You can complete the Adult Disability Report yourself or someone else can fill out this form on your behalf. Even if you have someone else complete the application for you, there will still be forms you must sign, including an authorization to release medical information, among others.

A disability advocate or lawyer that specializes in handling Social Security claims may be the most beneficial resource though, since he or she can advise you on which aspects of your medical history to emphasize on this critical document. He or she can additionally assist you throughout the application and review processes and can even represent you at an appeal hearing, if one is necessary in order for you to achieve a disability approval.

If you have an open claim for disability benefits, or are looking to apply, please contact us for a free evaluation of your case!

By: Thomas A. Klint of Premier Disability Services, LLC®