Monday, March 25, 2013

One Strategy to Increase Monthly Income for Disabled Persons. Information Bulletin #376 (3/2013) There are more than 7 million persons who are disabled and who receive Supplemental Security Income because they have a disability. This Information Bulletin is addressed to a subset those 7 million -- whose disability began before they were 22 years old and whose parents receive or were entitled to receive Social Security retirement benefits. This Information Bulletin is to remind and or inform this subset of 7 million SSI recipients of a potential federal financial benefit that could increase their monthly incomes. This subset of 7 million disabled persons’ living arrangements differ: some live independently on their own; some live in group homes or with roommates; some are married and live with their spouses; and some still reside with their aging nondisabled parents. Some have physical disabilities, some intellectual and some mental disabilities. Some were born with their disability and some acquired their disability before age 22. If you are one of these 7 million or know people who are, you and they might be eligible to receive “Child’s benefits” – under the Social Security retirement system - based on the “earning record of an insured person,” your parent(s) Social Security retirement benefits, whether or not your parents are still alive. What this means in nontechnical terms is: 1.Is either parent receiving Social Security retirement benefits or either parent died but would have been eligible to receive those benefits? 2.Don’t be misled by the term “child.” It does not mean your age, but refers to your relationship to your parent. For example, a 45 year old recipient of SSI has a 67 year old parent who collects S.S. retirement benefits. The 45 year old may be entitled to “child’s benefits” based on his parent’s earning record. 3.Did your disability begin before you were 22 years old? Here is concrete example of how this system works. A.You were became disabled before you were 22 years old. This could have been at birth or any time before you were 22. B.You receive SSI (although that is not a requirement). It does not matter where you reside or with whom you reside. C.What is important is that one of your parents receives Social Security “Old-Age” insurance benefits, a/k/a Social Security retirement benefits, or either parent received those benefits before s/he died and would have been eligible for them now, were your parent alive. The dollar difference between your SSI monthly benefits and the “child’s benefits” based on your parents earning record could be significant. You may receive up to one-half of your parent’s full retirement benefit, or 75 percent of the deceased parent’s basic Social Security benefit. You must apply to the Social Security Administration, which can be done by telephone or on-line. It is worth your effort to find out the monthly benefits you may be entitled to, whether or not you decide to actually apply, and compare that sum with your SSI. Two additional points: 1.Normally “child’s benefits” end if the person marries. However, if a person with a disability marries another disabled person who receives disability benefits, then you are still eligible for “child’s benefits.” 2. A big issue is health care coverage and benefits. On SSI, you receive Medicaid. In many States – not all – if your “child’s benefits” are less than 138% of the federal poverty level ($1,285 a month), you will still be Medicaid eligible effective 1/2014. In many States, you can become eligible for Medicaid under “spend down” requirements. Unfortunately, you are not eligible for Medicare benefits based on your parent’s earning record. Check out this issue as it will specifically apply to you. Is the Social Security Administration motivated to provide the maximum amount of income to which people with disabilities are entitled to receive? The SSA knows each of the 7 million SSI recipients, their age when they became disabled and their parents’ status. It cannot be too difficult to at least notify them of these potential rights. There are a number of wrinkles which this Information Bulletin does not discuss. Telephone the Social Security 800 number and make an application. Steve Gold, The Disability Odyssey continues Back issues of other Information Bulletins are available online at with a searchable Archive at this site divided into different subjects. Information Bulletins will also be posted on my blog located at To contact Steve Gold directly, write to or call 215-627-7100. Ext 227.

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