News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Seniors

October 5, 2009

Social Security: Disabled? Social Security can help

Disability is something most people do not like to think about. But the unfortunate reality is this: The chances that you will become disabled are probably far greater than you realize. Studies show that a 20-year-old worker has a 3 in 10 chance of becoming disabled before reaching retirement age.

Social Security pays benefits to people with disabilities through the Social Security disability insurance program, which is covered by Social Security taxes. If you qualify, you can receive a monthly disability benefit from Social Security for as long as your disability keeps you from working. The amount of your benefit is based on your average lifetime earnings. After a period of time, usually after receiving cash benefits for 24 months, you can also receive Medicare coverage.

When you work and pay Social Security taxes, you earn credits. The number of credits you need to qualify for disability benefits depends on your age, and some of the work must be recent. For example, if you become disabled after age 31, you need to have worked at least 10 years and five of the past 10 years. But if you become disabled before age 24, you need only one and a half years of work in the past three years.

If you have a disability that makes you unable to work, the time to get started with your application is now. That’s because it can take time to determine whether you qualify for benefits. It usually takes about three to five months for a medical decision from the state agency that evaluates your condition. Then, if your application is approved, your first Social Security disability payment will be made for the sixth full month after the date we determine that your disability began. Medicare coverage generally begins 24 months, or two years, after you begin receiving Social Security disability benefits.

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