Disability

New Rule Modernizes How We Award Disability Benefits

February 24, 2020 • By

Last Updated: February 24, 2020

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The Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs protect some of the most vulnerable people in our society. A successful disability program must evolve and support making the right decision as early in the process as possible. To help us do that, we must modernize the rules and standards we use to evaluate how we determine disability benefits. We are moving forward with a rule change that has been in the works for a number of years and serves to update a more than 40-year-old policy that made the inability to communicate in English a factor in awarding disability benefits. The new rule is effective April 27, 2020.

We are required to consider education to determine if your medical condition prevents work. In 2015, our Inspector General recommended that we evaluate the appropriateness of this policy. Research now shows the inability to communicate in English is no longer a good measure of a person’s education level or the ability to engage in work. The new rule also supports the Administration’s longstanding focus of recognizing that individuals with disabilities can remain in the workforce.

To make the right disability decisions, Social Security disability rules must continue to reflect current medicine and evolution of work. We need to update our rules to keep up with society’s changes.

We owe it to the American public to ensure that our disability programs continue to reflect the realities of the modern workplace. Please share this information with your family and friends.

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About the Author

Commissioner of Social Security Administration (June 17, 2019 - July 9, 2021)

Comments

  1. Shelly

    I have retired from my job as of June 2020. I am deciding if I want to draw my social security now or wait until I am 66.5 years. I was told that there is a dollar limit to how much money my spouse and I can make together in a year. I believe the amount was $54,000 a year. Do I need to wait until he retires to draw my social security? I am 63 and he is 60 years old if that helps the equation.

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Shelly, thanks for using our blog. We will always pay your own retirement benefit first. If your benefits as a spouse are higher than your own retirement benefits, you will get a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse benefit. You cannot apply for spouse’s benefits until your spouse files for Social Security retirement benefits. You can apply for your own retirement benefits as early as age 62. Once your spouse files, you can then file for the additional spouse’s benefit if you’re eligible.

      You may start receiving retirement benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. Monthly benefits are reduced if you start them any time before your “full retirement age”. Your full retirement age depends on your date of birth. It may be between age 66 and 67. This could affect the amount of your benefits and when you want the benefits to start.

      The amount you’re allowed to earn while receiving benefits depends on your age. If you attain full retirement age (66) in 2020, the earnings limit is $48,600 but we only count earnings before the month you reach full retirement age. Beginning with the month you reach full retirement age, earnings no longer reduce your benefits, no matter how much you earn. If you’re under full retirement age for the entire year, then we deduct $1 from benefit payments for every $2 earned above the annual limit. For 2020, that limit is $18,240. Visit our Retirement Planner: Getting Benefits While Working and our Retirement Earnings Test Calculator.

      The Benefits Planner: Retirement provides detailed information about Social Security retirement benefits.

  2. Anna

    Im 59 I’m on SSDI unable to ever return to my previous career. I was married 14 years one child never remarried (divorce for 18 years). My x is 75 on social security ~ when can I apply for x spouse benefits? And how much would I receive? Would I receive the higher of his and my payments or a percentage? Thank you.

    • Vonda V.

      Hello Anna, thank you for your questions.

      You can receive benefits on your ex-spouse’s record if:
      • You are age 62 or older;
      • You were legally married to your ex-spouse for at least 10 years;
      • You are unmarried;
      • Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits and,
      • The benefit you are entitled to receive based on your own work is less than the benefit you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work.

      For more information, please visit our Retirement Planner: If You Are Divorced.

  3. Joe

    I don’t want to be ignored, or brushed off like another person was, or told that you do not have access to my information. So let me ask my question in broader terms. Can someone that is receiving SSDI, not SSI, SSDI decide to return to work? Yes, I know that answer, they can. So now that they have decided to return to work at some point, if they ever find a position, now that there is a national pandemic and that person has been interrupted in their job search by the coronavirus, it would stand to reason that they could then collect or apply for Unemployment Insurance like any other resident of the state. Which happens to have a clause that if your job search has been affected by the Covid19, you qualify for the benefits that the federal government has made possible through the state unemployment. When asked during each of certification weeks if they worked paid or not, or if they collected disability and they answer yes and give the amount. This is fine right? This would be considered full disclosure correct? They would then deduct any amount of state benefits that the person would receive and everything is cool. I’m not quoting anyone I am just asking about the rules that are in place and make sure I am following them. I could not find anything on the California State UI website in regards to SSDI, they simply refer all questions about social security to SSA.Gov. So here I am. Thank you again.

    SD

  4. shad d.

    I dont want to ignored, or brushed off like another person was and told that you do not have access to my information. So let me ask my question in broader terms. Can someone that is receiving SSDI, not SSI, SSDI decide to return to work? Yes, I know that answer. So now that they have decided to return to work at some point if they ever find a position, now that there is a national pandemic and that person has been interrupted in their job search by the coronavirus, it would stand that they could then collect for or apply for UI which happens to have a clause that if your job search has been affected by the Covid19, you qualify for the benefits that the federal government has made possible through the state unemployment. When asked during each of certification weeks if they were collected disability and they answer yes and give the amount. This would be considered full disclosure correct? They would then deduct any amount of state benefits that the person would receive and everything is cool. I’m not quoting anyone I am just asking about the rules that are in place and make sure I am following them. I could not find anything on the California State UI website in regards to SSDI, they simply refer all questions about social security to SSA.Gov. So here I am. Thank you again.

    SD

    • Vonda V.

      Hi there. Unemployment benefits do not affect or reduce Social Security retirement and disability benefits. State unemployment compensation payments are not wages because they are paid due to unemployment rather than employment. However, income from Social Security may reduce your unemployment compensation. Contact your state unemployment office for information on how your state applies the reduction. We hope this helps!

  5. Shad D.

    Can someone who is receiving SSDI decide one day that the current amount of only $1530 (minus $145 medicare and minute $200 student loans)monthly, that this is not an amount that will sustain them at even a poverty level, and thus decide to try to go back to work? Regardless of discomfort, pain, soul humbling embarrassment of the lack of ability to reengage the workforce. While the search for an appropriate position that can accommodate accordingly, could I then apply for the state’s unemployment benefits and thus the covid19 enhancement? Of course, reporting to the state the benefits that I receive from SSDI, a commanding sum of $383.5 each week. Is that going to be an issue? As dim as my candlelight of employment prospects looked prior to Covid19, you can well imagine how that has turned to almost pure darkness. I foresee someone thinking that I am frauding the system in some way, that I must be in the lap of luxury double dipping or something. I assure you I am not. Try living off $383.50 a week at 47 years old. I don’t qualify for EBT food program, as somehow food is factored into that kings ransom I get every month. Couldn’t even get an Obama phone..haha. Further, I don’t even qualify for a studio apartment unless it’s downtown next to the homeless shelters and surrounded by tents and needles. I am not asking for pity, there are plenty worse off than I am, but I want to know if that would add to my problems. Thank you for your prompt attention to my questions and I sincerely I look forward to your answer.
    Joe

  6. Darlene F.

    I am currently receiving early retirement and working part time Upon being diagnosed with several medical conditions I feel I have reached the disability criteria How can I apply for disability when receiving early retirement

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Darlene, thanks for using our blog. It depends on how old you currently are. When a person has reached their full retirement age (Currently 66) and is receiving Social Security retirement, they are no longer eligible for disability benefits. If you’re under your full retirement age, you absolutely can apply for disability benefits.

      If you have any questions or want to apply, call us at 1-800-772-1213 or contact your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

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  8. CAROL

    How can I get the help I need to survive ? I have mental disorders,which also greatly affect my physical ability,and prevent me from doing substantial gainful activities. My medical records contain the undeniable evidence. I have applied for my disability insurance back in March of 2015. I have been denied several times and my case is now pending in federal court in Colorado. There are several judicial errors which the ALJ made and her fact finding is clearly erroneous. I feel “the decorum and bias and the perfectly unethical behavior of this judge is unacceptable. ” It’s judicial bullying, in my opinion, and I feel an undisclosed bias doomed my case. For these reasons I am homeless, for over three years now, unable to afford the medical care I need, and to add insult to injury we’re in the middle of a vicious pandemic. I am emotionally and physically overwhelmed, and eventhough my case keeps getting denied, this does not change the facts that are true. I am disabled, and my disabilities prevent me from working.
    “It’s absolutely imperative that people have full faith and confidence in the judicial process. ”
    Please help!!!

    • Donielle S.

      I am going through the same thing and had to go to work even though I physically was in severe pain documented, and mental disorders documented. I applied in 2015 and denied and the ALJ was completely dishonest! She took someone on social security team over all my doctors documented. I reapplied and it is finally initially approved, but I had to work to avoid being homeless as I was for months, staying with friends. I quit that job because of mental stress and physical pain. I had two more jobs the past few months just to keep a apartment for my mom and i. I hope my working doesn’t deny my benefits! It just doesn’t make sense! It is like they want us on the street! I have proof I have not done drugs, several blood tests just to get non-opidoid pain medications. I am waiting now for the next level to review. You just have to keep documenting! I have worked 40 years and it should not be based on age, but how long full time years were worked!

      • Juliano

        So they don’t reply to these important comments? How convinient!

  9. nadine s.

    Can my 2 children 10 and 12 continue getting their ssi check and a check from my ssd too. Also I owe bavk child support will it come from my retro n what about monthly child support. Will that come out of my monthly ssd check

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Nadine. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We ask that members in our Blog community work with our offices with specific questions. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., for assistance. You can also contact your local Social Security office. We hope this helps.

  10. Laura

    Can a person without the required Social Security credits, but disabled, apply for disability using her spouse’s SSA credits?

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Laura, thanks for using our blog. We pay disability benefits through two programs: the Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have worked long enough and recently enough in jobs covered by Social Security (usually within the last 10 years). The (SSI) program is a needs based program that gives cash assistance to disabled individuals with limited income and resources. We pay disability benefits to people who are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last one year or more or to end in death. If you think you may be eligible to receive disability benefits and would like to apply, you can use our online application.

Comments are closed.