Posts in:June, 2023

Survivor Benefits: What Happens to Your SSDI When You Pass Away?

Posted June 23, 2023 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

If you’re receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and you’ve wondered what happens to those benefits when you pass away, you’re not alone. It’s a tough but important question. Understanding how survivor benefits work can provide peace of mind. Knowing that your loved ones may be able to receive financial support after your death can ensure their well-being in difficult times.

What are Social Security Survivor Benefits?

When a person who has paid into the Social Security system passes away, the Social Security Administration (SSA) can provide survivor benefits to eligible family members. It’s an essential part of the social safety net that can help reduce the financial hardship that often follows the loss of a loved one.

Here are the main categories of family members who could potentially receive survivor benefits:

Surviving spouses – If you’re married and you pass away, your spouse can receive benefits based on your work record. If they’re of full retirement age or older, they can receive 100% of your benefit amount. If they’re age 60 or older, they can receive 71.5% to 99% of your benefit. If they’re disabled, benefits can begin as early as age 50. They can also receive benefits at any age if they’re caring for your child who is under 16 or disabled.

Children – Unmarried children under 18 (or up to 19 if attending elementary or secondary school full-time) can also receive benefits. Children who were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled can also qualify.

Dependent parents – In some cases, if you have a parent who was dependent on you for at least half of their support, they might be eligible for survivor benefits once they reach age 62.

How Much Can My Survivors Receive?

The amount of survivor benefits your loved ones can receive depends on your earnings and the amount of Social Security benefits you were entitled to at the time of your death. The more you paid into Social Security during your lifetime, the higher their benefits would be.

Each family member may be eligible for a monthly benefit that is up to 50% to 100% of your basic Social Security benefit. However, there’s a limit to the amount of money that can be paid to a family. This family maximum is usually between 150% and 180% of your benefit rate.

Applying for Survivor Benefits

Survivor benefits are not automatic. Your loved ones must apply for them. They can do so by calling the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or contacting their local Social Security office. Your family members need to contact the SSA as soon as possible after your death because benefits may not be retroactive. They may lose benefits if they delay applying.


Thinking about what happens to your SSDI benefits when you’re no longer here can be tough, but it’s an important conversation to have. Having an understanding of the process can provide some peace of mind and knowledge that your loved ones could receive some financial support. Remember, it’s completely normal to have questions about such important matters. Becoming informed and prepared is one of the best ways we can provide some comfort for our families no matter what the future holds.

Making Sense of the “Trial Work Period” and Its Impact on Your SSDI Benefits

Posted June 16, 2023 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

If you’re receiving disability benefits and are thinking about getting back to work, you might be worried about how it could affect your benefits. Thankfully, the Social Security Administration has guidelines for this situation. They’ve created a supportive policy called a trial work period (TWP) to make things easier for you. Here’s a simple explanation of what it’s all about.

What is the Trial Work Period?

The TWP is essentially a “test drive” for returning to work. It’s a provision that enables Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recipients to assess their capacity to work for at least nine months. During this time, you’ll still receive your full SSDI benefits, irrespective of your earnings, as long as you report your work activity and continue to meet SSA’s disability criteria.

Think of the TWP as a safety measure. It’s a designated period where you can explore working without immediately having your disability status affected. This period lasts for nine months, but they need not be consecutive, as they can occur within a rolling 60-month window.

Earnings During the Trial Work Period

In 2023, if you earn $1,050 or more in a month, or if you’re self-employed and work over 80 hours in a month, it will count as a TWP service month. However, it’s crucial to note that during these months, you’ll still receive your full disability benefits.

What Happens After the Trial Work Period?

When your Trial Work Period ends, you’ll move into what’s called the extended period of eligibility (EPE). This lasts for three years.

During the EPE, the Social Security Administration (SSA) looks at how much you’re earning from work. They compare your earnings to a limit they’ve set, which is called the substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit. In 2023, the SGA limit is $1,470 per month for people who aren’t blind, and $2,460 for people who are blind.

If you earn less than these limits, you can continue to receive your full benefits. If you earn more, you might not be eligible for benefits.

There’s also a safety net. If you stop receiving benefits because you’re earning more than the SGA limit, and then later find you can’t work as much because of your disability within the next five years, you can get your benefits reinstated without having to apply all over again. This is known as expedited reinstatement.


The journey back to work while still receiving SSDI benefits is indeed a personal one, and it’s important to remember that every individual’s path will look different. The decision to explore employment during your benefits period is entirely yours, dependent on your specific circumstances, abilities, and comfort levels.

The goal is to ensure you have the freedom to make the best decision for your situation, with the assurance that support and assistance are always within reach. The path forward may have its complexities, but it also comes with supporting resources, making the journey manageable. After all, the journey is about more than just benefits and earnings—it’s about carving out the life that suits you best, with the knowledge that you have the support needed to make it possible.

If you want to learn more about the trial work period, you can check out this handout from the SSA. 

Does Substance Abuse Impact Your Social Security Disability Claim?

Posted June 9, 2023 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Picture this: you’re thumbing through your medical records in preparation for your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claim. Suddenly, you stumble upon a note from your doctor – something about substance abuse. Your heart sinks. Will this affect your claim? Is it a disqualifier?

Before panic sets in, let’s unpack this topic and gain some clarity on how substance abuse can potentially influence your SSDI claim.

The Social Security Administration’s Stance

The Social Security Administration (SSA) addresses substance abuse issues explicitly in its regulations. However, it doesn’t automatically disqualify you from benefits. The main concern that the SSA has is whether substance abuse is “material” to your disability – in other words, if your disability would improve to the point of you being able to work if you stopped using substances.

The Materiality Test

Let’s dive a bit deeper into this so-called “materiality test”. Say you suffer from liver disease related to alcohol use. If abstaining from alcohol would reasonably be expected to improve your condition such that you could return to work, the SSA could deny your claim. However, if your disability would remain severe even without substance use – say you have irreversible liver damage – your claim could still be accepted.

Dual Diagnosis: A Complicated Picture

Sometimes, substance abuse and mental health conditions go hand in hand, a situation referred to as “dual diagnosis”. The SSA examines such cases very carefully. For instance, if you’re struggling with both depression and substance abuse, the SSA will try to determine if your depression is severe enough to warrant disability benefits even if you were to stop using substances.

Navigating the SSDI Process with a Substance Abuse History

If you’ve battled with substance abuse, the SSDI application process might feel like navigating a minefield. Here are a few points to keep in mind:

Be Honest –  Honesty is the best policy when applying for SSDI. Misrepresenting your substance use could hurt your credibility and impact your claim.

Gather Detailed Medical Evidence – Comprehensive medical records documenting your disability and any substance abuse can provide a clear picture of your situation.

Seek Legal Advice – If you’re unsure how your history of substance abuse may impact your claim, consider consulting with a disability attorney or advocate.

Remember, while a history of substance abuse can complicate your SSDI claim, it’s not an automatic disqualifier. It’s about your current health state and your ability (or lack thereof) to work.
Still have questions about how substance abuse can impact your SSDI claim? The Social Security Administration offers more detailed guidance in its Handbook on Disability Evaluation. Don’t let uncertainty deter you from pursuing the benefits you may be eligible for.