Social Security and the Death Benefit

Category Archives: Social Security Disability

Social Security and the Death Benefit

If a spouse or parent dies, it is a difficult time for everyone. In addition to the grief, there are also financial implications that you may not want to think about. It is possible to receive some financial assistance during this time from the Social Security Administration. This is known as the Social Security one-time death benefit.

social security one time death benefit

There are things that you need to consider about your eligibility as well as the application process. It’s also important to keep in mind that this amount is not a large one. This special lump-sum death payment is only $255, so it won’t cover the expense of a funeral or other things, but it can still help and you still may be entitled to this money.


Who qualifies for the Social Security one-time benefit?

  • 1) A spouse living in the same home as the deceased when they died.


  • 2) A spouse living in another location can also be eligible if this person was already receiving benefits on the spouse’s record or became eligible upon this death.


  • 3) If there is no surviving spouse, this can be paid to the child or children of the deceased. This is only the case if the child was already receiving benefits on the parent’s record or became eligible upon this death.


How do I apply for the Social Security one-time benefit?


  • 1) You can apply either in person at your local Social Security office or by calling 1-800 -772-1213. It is not necessary to schedule an appointment ahead of time when applying in person, but it can save you time if you do.


  • 2) Make sure to have certain documents ready. These documents include a birth certificate, proof of citizenship or lawful alien status, U.S. military discharge if you served in the military prior to 1968, W-2 forms for the last year and the death certificate of the deceased.


  • 3) Photocopies are acceptable for W-2 forms, but everything else must be original. If you are missing some documents, the SSA can help you attain them.


  • 4) You also need to know certain information and will be asking the questions listed here.


  • 5) Also make sure to have your financial institution’s information ready for direct deposit purposes.

It’s important to understand how the Social Security one-time death benefit works. Contact us with any questions!

How Do I File A Child Social Security Disability Claim?

Facing the reality of the medical issues borne by our children wears on parents. And, the impact of disabling conditions on their lives and ours prove difficult, if not impossible, some days. Filing a child Social Security disability claim relieves some of the stress.

child social security disability attorney

The Social Security Administration (SSA) sympathizes with the emotional and financial weight of these situations. And, the goal of this organization is to financially assist families in need with a child’s daily living and medical expenses.


Furthermore, the SSA extends to every applicant the right to representation. A friend, family member or child Social Security disability attorney becomes your ally in the process. Through this assistance, the SSA works to ensure you receive the benefits due your child.


Filing for SSI

To file a child Social Security disability claim, an Application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and a Child Disability Report are needed. Both completed forms require supporting documentation as well.


However, before you begin this involved process, contact SSA to determine if your child qualifies initially. A local SSA representative helps you determine if the income and resources of parents and child fall within the SSA limits.


The Child Disability Report helps SSA understand your child’s disabling condition and its impact on daily function. As part of the report, you are asked to sign permission for the agency to gather information from your child’s healthcare providers. This form can be completed online.


Unfortunately, the Application for Supplemental Security Income cannot. In order to complete the application, you must schedule an appointment with your local SSA office. A representative helps you apply for SSI on behalf of your child.


Waiting for a Determination

Once the documentation is complete, a state agency determines if your child meets the criteria of disabled under the strict SSA definition of disability. Plus, the family income and SSA income limits are again reviewed.


The SSA definition of disability reads, “a physical or mental condition that very seriously limits his or her activities” which “lasts or is expected to last at least one year or result in death.” And the income requirement, in general, is “little to no income or resources”.


Within three to five months, the SSA contacts you with a decision.

The work of gathering documentation and filing these forms along with raising a child with a disability can be overwhelming. For your peace of mind, hiring a child Social Security disability attorney proves helpful.

Improving the Success of Your Social Security Disability Claim

When filing a Social Security disability claim, the need for financial help is often immediate or at least imminent. While the option to appeal is within your right, the time to do so delays benefit payments. And, this proves difficult in an already challenging time.

social security disability claim

Fortunately, a few key tips improve your chances of receiving a favorable decision. Follow these practical guidelines as you apply for a disability claim.


Complete the Application in Full

While the blanks on a Social Security disability claim may overwhelm you, filling them in completely decreases delays. Incomplete information leads to additional requests or may even require starting over in certain cases.


Submit All Requested Documents

The paper trail of supporting a medical disability claim gets lengthy. However, providing all medical records, lab and test results, birth certificate or proof of age and other documents gives the Social Security agents a full understanding of your case to earn you benefits.


Request Physician Support

Talking with your personal physician builds your support team in the claims process. Ask your doctor if he or she will support your case. A detailed physician statement (or Residual Functional Capacity, RFC form) explains your disability and your inability to work.

Honor Deadlines

Allowing deadlines to lapse delays a decision on your case. Getting application work and documents in on time eliminates this delay. Other time-sensitive replies include additional requests, letters, notices, consultative medical exams and appeal dates.


Follow up as Needed

Keeping track of your Social Security disability case ensures you do not miss important deadlines or fail to submit needed documentation. In some situations, following up prevents your case from being lost in a stack of paperwork.


Maintain a Good Relationship With Case Workers

Social Security claims reps, disability claims examiners and attorneys are your allies in the filing process. Maintaining a friendly, cooperative relationship taps into human nature and tends to return the favor in your direction.


Retain Your Right to Representation

The Social Security Administration encourages you to take advantage of your right to representation in the claims process. Family members, friends, advocates or Social Security disability claim lawyers provide helpful support. Representatives assist you in following the above tips to disability claim success.


Social Security disability claim lawyers offer expertise in required documentation, knowledge of deadlines and general help in getting a favorable decision. In an overwhelming process, at a trying time, this support is welcome.

Social Security Disability Programs

If you can no longer work because you have suffered a severe injury or have a serious illness, you can receive financial assistance through a variety of programs that are offered through the Social Security Administration (SSA). Below is a brief overview of the programs you may be eligible for.

social security disability program

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Supplemental Security Income benefits are available for citizens of the United States who have worked for a long enough period of time and have paid into the Social Security system, people over 65, and children with certain disabilities. Payments through this system are based on the applicant’s financial need. To be eligible for SSI benefits, you must meet these qualifications:


1) You cannot perform your work because of your disability
2) You have no other way to financially support yourself

3) You must not have more than $2,000 in countable assets ($3,000 of you are married)


Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

To qualify for SSDI benefits, you have to meet the definition of disability according to the SSA. That means your condition needs to have lasted at least one year, or is expected to do so. Also, if your condition is listed in the SSA’s list of impairments you will likely be eligible for benefits. You must prove to the SSA with medical evidence that you meet their eligibility requirements. You also must have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits. You earn work credits for every quarter you work at a job that takes out Social Security taxes. The work credits that are needed vary based on your age:


If you are under 24 years of age, you need to have earned at least six credits in the three years prior to the onset of the disability.


If you are between 24 and 31, you need credits from half the time between age 21 and the time you became disabled.


If you are over 31, the number of credits you need increases incrementally:


Age Credits
31-42 20 Credits
44 22 Credits
46 24 Credits
48 26 Credits
50 28 Credits
52 30 Credits
54 32 Credits
56 34 Credits
58 36 Credits
60 38 Credits
62 and up 40 Credits

Veterans Benefits

To be eligible for veterans disability benefits, you must meet the following qualifications.


1) You have a current mental or physical condition that prevents you from working
2) You were injured or illness during your service

3) There is a link between your injury or illness and the time of your military service


If you believe that you qualify for any of these benefits or have questions about them, contact the law office of James Mitchell Brown today.

Are You at Risk for Your Disability Payments to Stop?

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), two things can cause your disability payments to stop.

Social Security Disability Benefits

The first thing that can cause your disability payments to stop is if you are working at a level that the SSA deems “substantial.” Stay aware of the current guidelines that determine substantial income from being employed. For 2017, earning of $1,170.00 per month ($1950.00 if you are blind) is considered substantial income. If your benefits stop due to substantial income and you become unable to work again, you have five years to ask the SSA to restart your benefits due to your condition. The SSA will review your medical condition, but as long as you are within the five-year period, you will not be required to submit a new application for benefits.


If you have work expenses due to your disability, the SSA may be able to deduct those expenses from your monthly earnings before deciding if you are still eligible for disability benefits. One example is if your disability prohibits you from driving or using public transportation, and you have the added expense of paying for a taxi to get back and forth from work. Other examples include counseling services, copayments for prescriptions, a wheelchair, or specialized work equipment.


Make the SSA aware of any significant changes in your situation, including if you start or stop working, or if your duties, hours, or pay changes. Also, you need to report work expenses related to your disability right away. You can report these changes by phone, mail, or in person.


Your benefits can stop if the SSA determines that you are no longer disabled. It is your responsibility to inform them immediately if your condition improves. Occasionally, the SSA reviews the current medical condition of everyone receiving disability benefits to ensure each person still has a qualifying disability. Typically, if you are still unable to work and your condition has not improved, your benefits will continue.


If your benefits are under review, the SSA will gather information from doctors, hospitals, and other medical sources. In some cases, they will ask you to go for a special examination at no cost to you. They will review all the information to determine if your condition has improved. If they determine your condition has improved, they will consider the type of work you do to decide whether or not your condition has improved enough for you to return to work. If they determine you can return to work, your benefits will stop.


Other things that can cause your social security disability payments to stop are not following doctor’s orders, giving false or misleading information, and not cooperating with the SSA.

A Brief Overview of Disability Determination Services

Although applications are first given to a representative of the Social Security Administration (SSA),that is not where the ultimate decision is made regarding a disability claim. They pass it on to Disability Determination Services (DDS) for the next step of the process. DDS is a state agency that decides the fate of all initial disability claims. The following information provides a brief overview of DDS and how it operates.

disability determination services

The Role of DDS
When a disability claim is sent to the DDS, it is assigned to a disability examiner who will manage the progress of the claim. All examiners have been trained to interpret medical records and data regarding work histories. They also have special training in understanding and interpreting the Blue Book or List of Impairments that has been created by the SSA to help determine which conditions are considered disabilities.


Information the Examiner Needs
In order to perform their job in a satisfactory manner, disability examiners need specific information that pertains to each claim. Your disability examiner will request your medical records from every health care provider who has treated you for the condition causing the disability. He or she will also seek out information regarding your work history for the past 15 years. One last piece of information you will need to provide is a listing of your activities of daily living (ADL). This information will allow the examiner to see how your disability has negatively affected your daily life.


Medical Exams Requested By The DDS
After the examiner who is assigned to your claim has looked at all of the information, he or she will try to make a determination on it. If there is not enough information to do so, you may be asked to have a consultative examination by an SSA assigned doctor. The consultative exam will provide more updated data that the DDS can examine to help make a more accurate decision.


Decisions Made By The DDS
When all the information is gathered, the DDS can make its decision on your case. The main consideration of your case will be made based on your ability to continue working at your profession or a similar type of work. If the claim is approved, it will be sent back to your local SSA office to begin the adjudication process. If it is denied, you will receive a letter notifying you of the decision.


If you have questions regarding the DDA or are in need of a disability lawyer for any reason, contact the law office of James Mitchell Brown today to see how we can help you.

Avoid These Mistakes When Applying for Disability Insurance

The process of filing for disability is incredibly involved and complicated. The first mistake you want to avoid is taking on the task without help. The requirements of what is needed to qualify are something most people just don’t know. Just as you need help when filing complex tax returns, professional help is available and necessary when filing for social security disability insurance. Hiring a professional who deals with disability insurance knows exactly what the Social Security Administration (SSA) needs – this is your best bet at receiving approval for benefits.

Applying for Disability Insurance

Another common mistake is filing for unemployment while waiting for a response on a disability application. Don’t file for unemployment if you are in the middle of trying to get a disability claim approved. It is a catch-22 scenario. You need money because you cannot work, but there is a critical conflict, and here is why – when you file for unemployment, you agree that you are ready and available for work in the event you receive a job offer that fits your skill set. However, filing a claim for disability means you are currently unable to work, or you anticipate the inability to work. Anyone who reviews your disability case, from disability attorneys to disability examiners, might see this as conflicting and controversial.


Don’t make the mistake of underestimating your disability. When filing for social security disability insurance, sometimes the small details are what can make or break your case. As an example, you may be able to do your own grocery shopping, but it is important to make the SSA aware that a friend or neighbor has to take you because you can no longer drive. It will help them get a clearer picture of the level of disability if they know you have to use a motorized shopping cart to make it through the entire store to complete your shopping. Details like that are important to point out because it highlights the effect your disability has on your day-to-day life. On the flip side, don’t exaggerate your disability either. It is okay to elaborate because the SSA needs all the details, but don’t exaggerate.


Don’t leave anything out of your medical history when you file for social security disability insurance. The biggest delay in most disability claims is waiting for the claimant to obtain medical records or the complete lack of medical records. The SSA will require a list of all medical conditions along with dates, treatments, and contact details for each physician. The most critical timeline is the most current, meaning the past 90 days, but it is important to include any evidence that supports an earlier onset date, which could impact the decision and the eligibility date.

The Many Benefits of the Social Security Disability Program

When you can no longer work due to a severe illness or injury, the thoughts that can go through your head can be nerve-wracking. One of the biggest concerns for most people figuring out how to live with little or no income. Often the answer comes in the form of disability benefit payments. Qualifying for disability benefits can allay many of your apprehensions and fears. Aside from providing a source of income, there are many other benefits that are associated with the Social Security disability program.

social security disability benefits

Your income will increase over time
If you remain on disability for an extended period of time, you will undoubtedly get annual increases in your payments. The increases are tied into the Consumer Price Index, so they fluctuate yearly, and they may not always be significant. However, if you are relying on long-term disability payments from your employer, the amount will stay static the entire time you are on it.


Your survivors benefits and retirement amounts will increase
When you begin receiving disability benefits, your Social Security earnings record stops. The importance of this fact comes into play when it is time for you to retire or for your survivors to receive benefits. Those amounts are calculated based on average earnings during a specific period of time. If the time you were on disability does not count, the average amount of money increases, so the monthly payments will increase as well. In short, receiving disability payments has no negative effects on average earnings.


Low taxed amount
Only 50% of your disability income is taxable. That leaves the other half to be completely yours.


People who opt for long-term disability payments are often limited in their access to Medicare. However, people who opt for disability payments have better access for a longer period of time to Medicare. Medicare coverage includes both Part A (hospital) and Part B (medical) coverage.


Return-to-work incentives
The Social Security Administration (SSA) categorizes all disability benefit recipients. Those who are considered capable of recovering from a condition are eligible for a vocational rehabilitation program. During the time in the program, participants are still eligible to receive benefits until completion of the program. People who are not expected to improve are eligible to participate in a trial work program and still remain eligible to receive benefits.


If you have questions about the many benefits of the disability benefits payment program, contact the law office of James Mitchell Brown today. We are here to serve you.

When Do You Need a SSDI Benefits Lawyer in Ohio?

Applying for social security disability can be nerve-wracking processes that can make anyone second guess whether or not they qualify for benefits. There are a lot of moving parts that go into your application being approved. There are also a lot of questions that you can have during this process that doesn’t seem like you can find the answers to easily online or have time to speak with a social security representative.

SSDI Benefits Lawyer in Ohio

Optimal Time to Get an SSD Benefits Lawyer in Ohio
You may be wondering when do you need a SSDI benefits lawyer in Ohio, and the truth of the matter is that you can benefit from having a lawyer in your corner from the very beginning. An experienced lawyer is able to answer your questions about your particular situation rather than just trying to rely on generalities that can be found online.


They are able to advise you about your application, and whether or not you’ll need more medical information. Getting a lawyer in the very beginning means that they will be checking over the information you’re providing, and should assist you in ensuring that all the necessary information is being sent to work on getting that elusive approval with the first application. Getting an attorney won’t guarantee this event will happen, but you’ll know that the best foot forward has been taken.


What to Look For in an SSDI Benefits Lawyer in Ohio
There are a number of qualities that you’ll want to look for when finding an SSDI benefits lawyer in Ohio. The first is that you want to find a lawyer that is experienced in similar situations as your own. It can be helpful to know that they’ve had clients with the same disability as yourself. The next quality that you want to look for is a lawyer that takes the time to help you go over your claim. All lawyers are busy, but you want one that’s able to carve you out the time you need to go over your questions and concerns. The bottom line here is that you want to find a social security lawyer that makes you feel secure in their help in getting you approved.


James Mitchell Brown is an Ohio lawyer that you can trust to help you with your SSD application process from starting the application to going through the appeals process in case your first application is denied. Guidance on this matter can help to give you a little more peace of mind as you try to work through all of the red tape that’s involved with getting benefits from social security for your disability.


Contact us today about your case and how we can help.

How to Choose a Social Security Disability Lawyer

When you’re working your way through a Social Security disability claim, it’s important to know that you’re following the right policies and procedures. Social Security disability advisors are invaluable when working through this process. It’s important to find the right Social Security disability appeal lawyer if your claim is denied. A lawyer will be able to help you through this, so it’s imperative to find one who is highly skilled and one of the best social security disability advisors.


Things to look for in a Social Security disability appeal lawyer: 

1) The lawyer needs to have experience in dealing with disability claims and appeals.

When you look for Social Security disability advisors, it’s important that you find someone with previous experience in dealing with disability cases. You want to find someone who has worked through cases similar to yours in the past. The more experience this person has, the better they will be able to help you as you move forward because your lawyer will be prepared in a variety of scenarios.

Social Security Disability Lawyer
2) The lawyer needs to understand medical evidence.

As part of past experience, your lawyer needs to understand the ins and outs of medical evidence and documentation. Any errors, no matter how simple, have the potential to get your claim denied. You need a lawyer who has experience in dealing with medical staff in order to make sure all your medical documentation is provided for and up to date.


3) The lawyer must be detail-oriented.

As part of the job, every lawyer should have a superb attention to detail. It’s important to have everything accounted for whether you’re submitting a claim for the first time or you’re submitting and working through an appeal.


4) The lawyer needs to be affordable.

This could be a hard time for you because you may no longer be receiving a paycheck. Because of this, the prospect of hiring a lawyer can be daunting. You may not know where you’ll come up with the funds. Before writing off hiring a lawyer all together, do you research on the lawyers in your area. The lawyer you pick needs to be affordable to you. The benefits need to outweigh the cost in order for you to move forward.

Many lawyers offer a free consultation. Take advantage of this to make sure you find the right lawyer for you.


Take care when choosing a lawyer and ask any questions that you have. Let us know how we can help you!