Spousal Benefits when Married to a Disability Recipient

Posted December 7, 2018 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

If your spouse receives Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you may be entitled to Social Security spousal benefits under certain circumstances. You may be eligible for benefits if you meet one of these three requirements:

  • You are at least 62 years of age (unless the total benefits you would receive from your earnings record is higher),
  • you are caring for your spouse’s minor child (under the age of 16), or
  • you are caring for your spouse’s disabled child (regardless of whether or not they are over the age of 16).

If you are eligible for spousal benefits, you and any dependent children may receive up to 50% of the total SSDI benefits your spouse receives. This means that the sum total of benefits you and your dependent children receive will equal no more than 50%—you and your dependent children do not each receive up to 50% of the total benefits earned by your spouse.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will first pay you any benefits you have earned from your own earnings record. If the amount of benefits you would receive based on your spouse’s disability benefits is higher, however, the SSA will combine the benefits to ensure you receive the greater amount of benefits. It is important to note that, although you may be eligible for spousal benefits at the age of 62, your benefits will be permanently reduced if you apply for them prior to your full retirement age. This does not apply if you are caring for a dependent, however.

If you were previously married to an individual who received SSDI, you may still be entitled to spousal benefits. In order to be eligible, the following must apply to your situation.

  • You must have been married for at least 10 years,
  • you must be at least 62 years old,
  • you must be unmarried (unless your new spouse is also eligible for SSDI benefits)
  • and you cannot receive any benefits based on your personal earnings record in an amount greater than or equal to your former spouse’s.

Individuals who receive SSDI and have an ex-spouse who is eligible for spousal benefits should note that, should they remarry, any benefits their new spouse receives will not be impacted by the benefits their former spouse receives.

If you believe you are eligible for spousal benefits, you must contact the SSA. The SSA will require your birth certificate, Social Security number, marriage certificate and information about any previous marriages, if applicable.

From: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®

The Adult Disability Report (ADR)

Posted November 30, 2018 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

After you apply for Social Security disability benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will begin gathering information about your medical conditions and symptoms, and how these affect your ability to do different things, such as stand for any length of time, lift things of various weights, or work on tasks that require concentration. Their goal is to determine if there is any type of job that you would be able to perform on a regular basis.

To help make this determination, the SSA will review your medical records, and may ask your doctor to fill out a report, or send you out for an examination at the SSA’s expense. However, they are also interested in your input as to what symptoms you experience and how they affect your ability to work. Having you complete the Adult Disability Report (Form SSA-3368) is one of the ways they get this information from you. The ADR is the basic form used for adults who are claiming disability benefits. You should fill the form out yourself, and though you may have a representative such as a Social Security Disability attorney or advocate help you with it, you should not have your doctor fill out any of it. The SSA has other forms which they will ask your doctor to fill out on your behalf.

Much of the ADR is simple and straightforward. You should always answer all questions as completely as you can. Don’t leave anything blank. If any section does not apply to you, write N/A in it. While the form itself isn’t complicated, there are some things you should know about filling it out, especially if you do it yourself. Here are some tips for filling out this form:

  • In Section 3 (MEDICAL CONDITIONS), make sure that you list each and every medical or mental problem that you have. Use additional paper if you need to. Explain how they limit your ability to work. Often, a person with several medical conditions will be approved for disability benefits even if none of the medical conditions would have qualified in and of itself.
  • In Section 4 (WORK ACTIVITY), make sure that you accurately portray how your disability affected you on the job and what restrictions it placed on you. You don’t want to exaggerate, but you certainly don’t want to downplay the limitations your disability has caused either.
  • In Section 6 (JOB HISTORY), it is important to list ALL jobs you have held over the past fifteen years, starting with the most recent and working your way back. Failure to disclose jobs you have held can result in legal trouble and a denial of your claim. Use a separate sheet of paper if you have had more than six jobs in the past fifteen years. In Section 6, you will be asked about the type of work you performed. While you should always be honest in filling this out, but it helps to consult a Social Security lawyer regarding how you should phrase your answers.
  • In Section 7 (MEDICINES), make sure you list all of your medications, both prescription and over the counter, that you take. Don’t leave anything out, even if it’s just a pain reliever.
  • In Section 8 (MEDICAL TREATMENT), you will want to list all medical and mental health professionals you are seeing or have seen. Fill the information out as accurately as you can. If you’re unsure of anything, contact your health care provider and ask.
  • Section 11 is reserved for remarks. Don’t leave this blank. Make your case and add any additional information that may be pertinent to your disability claim.

Social Security disability claims involve lots of paperwork. Chances are, you will receive other reports to complete from the SSA. An experienced disability attorney or advocate is familiar with Social Security reports and can assist you in filling them out. They can ensure that you are properly answering each question, and can provide advice as to what types of comments might be helpful to add. The Social Security disability process is long and arduous, and it is best to do everything right from the start to increase the odds that your application will be approved and you won’t be forced to progress through multiple levels of appeals.

If you or someone you know is unable to work due to a medical condition, please contact us for a free evaluation of your claim!

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®

It’s Open Enrollment for Medicare!

Posted November 16, 2018 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Each year, you have a chance to make changes to your Medicare Advantage or Medicare prescription drug coverage for the following year. The open enrollment period for Medicare for 2019 coverage began on October 15, 2018 and will continue through December 7, 2018.

During this annual enrollment period, you can make changes to various aspects of your coverage.

  • You can switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage or vice versa.
  • You can also switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another, or from one Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan to another.
  • And if you didn’t enroll in a Medicare Part D plan when you were first eligible, you can do so during the general open enrollment, although a late enrollment penalty may apply.

If you want to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, you must meet some basic criteria.

  • You must be enrolled in Medicare Part A and B.
  • You must live in the plan’s service area.
  • You cannot have End-Stage Renal Disease (some exceptions apply).

There are specific times when you can sign up for these plans, or make changes to coverage you already have. You don’t need to sign up for Medicare each year. However, each year you’ll have a chance to review your coverage and change plans.

If you didn’t sign up for Medicare A and B when you were first eligible, you have a chance to do so each year from January 1 to March 31, with coverage effective July 1.  You may be subject to a late enrollment penalty, however.  For Medicare Part B, the penalty is an additional 10 percent of the premium for each 12-month period that you were eligible but not enrolled.

If you have questions about Medicare, please feel free to give us a call at 1-877-749-5262. Our team of Medicare specialists may be able to assist you.

Read more here: https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Reach-Out/Find-tools-to-help-you-help-others/Medicare-Open-Enrollment.html

Plan finder: https://www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan/questions/home.aspx

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®