Posted on Jan 29, 2006 in the Sun-Sentinel, by Ginny Jordan, Public Affairs Specialist
Q. I get Social Security disability benefits due to a severe stroke five years ago that left me partially paralyzed. I just found out Social Security is going to review my case. Why?
A. Everyone who receives disability benefits must have their medical conditions reviewed from time to time. Your disability benefits will continue unless there is strong evidence that your condition has improved and that you are able to return to work. You can learn more about the disability review process by referring to the online publication How We Decide If You Are Still Disabled at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10053.html. Or you can request a copy by calling 800-772-1213 (TTY: 800-325-0778).
Q. My husband and I have four children and we have life insurance policies. But I have been encouraging him to also get a private disability insurance policy. He says any private disability insurance would just reduce the amount of the Social Security disability benefits he would be entitled to. Is this true?
A. No. A worker’s eligibility for Social Security disability benefits is not affected by any private insurance he or she may have. But you and your husband should know that workers’ compensation and certain other public disability payments may affect any Social Security benefit payments. You can learn more about the disability program by referring to the online publication Disability Benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10029.html. Or you can request a copy by calling 800-772-1213 (TTY: 800-325-0778).
Q. My brother lives with me and gets Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments because of a disability. I am getting married soon and my husband will be moving into this house. While my brother has been paying half of all household expenses, I have told him that he is now only responsible for a third. Does he also need to tell Social Security about this new arrangement?
A. Yes. Any time there is a change in living arrangements, an SSI recipient needs to tell Social Security. Sometimes changes in living arrangements can raise or lower the amount of SSI payments. However, since your brother will still be paying the pro rata share of the rent and household expenses, there may not be any change in the amount of SSI he receives.
Q. I get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments because of a disability, and money is very tight. A friend recently gave me a whole closet full of clothes that she no longer wears. Do clothes count as income that I would have to report?
A. No. Clothing is not considered income for SSI purposes. Gifts of food and shelter, however, can count as income in some cases. For more information on the types of things you need to report to Social Security, you can refer to the online publication What You Need to Know When You Get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/11011.html. Or you can request a copy by calling 800-772-1213 (TTY: 800-325-0778).
Q. How do I know if I qualify for extra help with Medicare prescription drug costs?
A. You may get a letter from Medicare saying that you automatically qualify for extra help. If you don’t automatically qualify, Social Security is sending people with limited income and limited resources an Application for Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs. You may qualify if your income is less than $14,355 for an individual or $19,245 for a married couple living together, and your resources are less than $11,500 for an individual or $23,000 if you are married and living with your spouse. If you didn’t get — or did not complete — an application but think you may qualify, call 800-772-1213 or visit www.socialsecurity.gov. After you complete the application, Social Security will mail you a letter telling you if you qualify for extra help.
Always consult with an experienced social security disability professional when you need help getting your disability benefits.