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3 Things You Should Know About Social Security Disability Benefits

| Jan 27, 2014

If you have applied for Social Security Disability Insurance, there are several things you should know about disability benefits and what to expect if your disability claim is approved.

How SSDI Benefits are Paid

Once you have been approved to receive Social Security Disability Benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will send a notice that you will be receiving disability payment; the notice should tell you the amount you will receive, and when your payments should start. Payments usually start with your sixth month of disability, as payment cannot begin until you have been disabled for at least 5 full months, according to federal law. Your disability benefit payments should continue as long as your medical condition still prevents you from working, and the SSA may periodically review your case to see that you are still disabled. Social Security Disability payments are sent each month, usually on the same date every month (based on your birth date).

Reporting Changes to the SSA

If something changes with your disability or lifestyle that may affect your benefits, you should notify the Social Security Administration as soon as possible. You are responsible for telling the SSA if there is any change in your ability to work, or if your medical condition improves. If you fail to notify the SSA, or purposely provide false information, your benefit payments could be stopped if they find out. If you do not report a change in your medical status, you could be overpaid and have to repay the money in the future. Here are some events you should notify the SSA about:

  1. If you apply for or start receiving another type of disability benefit, or if your benefits change or stop.
  2. If you are offered services under the Ticket to Work Program.
  3. If you and your family move to a new address.
  4. If you change direct deposit accounts.
  5. If you are unable to manage your benefits and need representative payee.
  6. If you get a pension from work that is not covered by Social Security.
  7. If you get married or divorced.
  8. If you change your name.
  9. If you care for a child who receives benefits, or you become a parent after receiving benefits.
  10. If you have an outstanding warrant for your arrest or are convicted of a crime.
  11. If you violate a condition of your parole or probation.
  12. If your U.S. citizenship status changes, or you leave the United States.
  13. If a person receiving SSD benefits dies.
  14. If you are receiving SSD benefits AND Railroad Retirement benefits based on a spouse’s work.

Reviewing Your Medical Condition

If you are receiving SSDI benefits, you must have your medical condition reviewed by the SSA on occasion to prove you are still disabled. Your benefit payments will continue as long as your medical condition has not improved and you are still unable to work. How often your disability is reviewed is dependent on the severity of your condition and your chances for improvement. Your benefit award notice should tell you when to expect your first review. If your condition is expected to improve within a specific time period, your first review should be 6-18 months after you started receiving SSD benefits. If improvement is possible, your condition may only be reviewed every 3 years. If medical improvement is not expected and your condition is unlikely to get better, your case might only be reviewed once every 5-7 years. During the review, an SSA representative may ask you to provide your medical history and information on any work you may have done. A disability examiner and a doctor may review your file and request medical records, and you may be asked to get a physical exam (which should be paid for by the SSA). After the review, if you are still disabled, your benefits will continue as usual. If the SSA determines you are no longer disabled, you can file an appeal if you wish to continue receiving disability benefit payments.

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