Disability Benefits Information

Disability Benefits

At the Connecticut Brain Tumor Alliance, we understand the challenges you may be facing resulting in the need for disability benefits.  We have gathered information to make your application process as smooth as possible.  Additional information is available in the Social Security Administration pamphlets, cited below.

Social Security pays benefits to people who cannot work because they have a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or is considered a terminal illness. (Disability Benefits. Social Security Administration, 2014. Print.)

To get disability benefits, two requirements must be met:

  1. A “Recent Work” test based on your age at the time you became disabled; and
  2. A “Duration of Work” test to show that you worked long enough under Social Security.

Recent Work Test

Social Security divides a work year into four quarters (January through March; April through June; July through September; and October through December).

If you become disabled in or before the quarter you turn age 24, then you generally need 1.5 years of work during the three-year period ending with the quarter your disability began.

If you become disabled in the quarter after you turn age 24 but before the quarter you turn 31, then you generally need to have worked during half the time for the period beginning with the quarter after you turned 21 and ending with the quarter you became disabled.

If you become disabled in the quarter you turn age 31 or later, then you generally need to have worked five years out of the ten-year period ending with the quarter your disability began.

Duration of Work Test

The following information shows examples of how much work you need to meet the “duration of work test”:

If you become disabled before: Years of work needed:
Age 28 1.5 years
Age 30 2 years
Age 34 3 years
Age 38 4 years
Age 42 5 years
Age 44 5.5 years
Age 46 6 years
Age 48 6.5 years
Age 50 7 years
Age 52 7.5 years
Age 54 8 years
Age 56 8.5 years
Age 58 9 years
Age 60 9.5 years
QUESTIONS? Visit www.socialsecurity.gov or call 1-800-772-1213

Two Ways to Apply for Disability Benefits

  1. www.socialsecurity.gov
  2. Call 1-800-772-1213 to make an appointment to file a disability claim at your local Social Security office or set up an appointment for someone to take your claim over the phone.

 *It can take 3-5 months for an application to be processed.

Make sure to have the following information when applying to make the process quicker and easier:

  • Social Security number
  • Birth certificate
  • Names, addresses, and phone numbers of the doctors, caseworkers, hospitals, and clinics that took care of you and dates of your visits
  • Names and dosage of all the medicine you take
  • Medical records from your doctors, therapists, hospitals, clinics, and caseworkers that you already have in your possession
  • Lab and test results
  • A summary of where you worked and the kind of work you did
  • A copy of your most recent W-2 form or if you are self-employed, your federal tax return for the past year

 *If your claim is approved, you will receive a letter in the mail.  If you disagree with the decision, you can appeal it.

The Appeals Process

If you wish to appeal, you must make your request in writing within sixty (60) days from the date you received the letter.  (The Appeals Process.  Social Security Administration, 2008.  Print.)

There are four levels of appeal:

  1. Reconsideration: a complete review of your claim (old evidence and new) by someone who did not take part in the first decision.
  2.  Hearing: If you request a hearing, an administrative law judge, who had no part in the original decision of reconsideration, will conduct a hearing where you and any witnesses you bring will be questioned prior to the judge issuing a decision.
  3. Review by the Appeals Council: a review of the hearing decision.
  4. Federal Court Review: if you disagree with the Appeals Council’s decision, you can file a lawsuit in a federal district court.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

SSI makes monthly payments to people who have low income and few resources, and who are disabled.

Whether you can get SSI depends on your income and the things you own.

You must be a U.S. citizen or national. (Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Social Security Administration, 2015.  Print.)

How to Apply

Visit www.socialsecurity.gov to fill out an application.

Or call 1-800-772-1213 to make an appointment with a Social Security representative.

What You Should Bring When You Apply

  • Your Social Security card or a record of your Social Security number
  • Your birth certificate or other proof of your age
  • Information about the home where you live, such as your mortgage or your lease and landlord’s name
  • Payroll slips, bank books, insurance policies, burial fund records, and other information about your income and the things you own
  • The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of doctors, hospitals, and clinics you have been to
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or eligible noncitizen status
  • Your checkbook or other papers that show your bank, credit union, or savings and loan account number

If you get SSI, you may be applicable for other things such as:

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps) – If everyone in your home is applying for or getting SSI, you can apply for food stamps as well.

Medicaid – helps pay for doctor and hospital bills.

Income Limit for Connecticut (For SSI)

“Countable income” cannot exceed the current benefit rate:

  • $674 for a single person
  • $1,011 for a couple (Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  Health Care Policy and Politics A to Z, 2009. )

What is counted as income?

  • Social security benefits
  • Pensions
  • Non-cash items a person receives such as the value of free food, clothing, or shelter

Certain income is not included, such as:

  • The first $20 of most income an individual receives each month
  • The first $65 per month individuals earn from working and one half the amount individuals earn over $65 per month
  • Food stamps
  • Shelter persons receive from private assistance
  • Assistance from nonprofit organizations
  • Most home energy assistance

The asset limit for an individual is $2,000 and $3,000 for a couple.  Assets that are considered for determining eligibility include:

  • Real estate other than a person’s home
  • Personal belongings
  • Bank accounts
  • Cash
  • Stock
  • Bonds

The following assets are not included when determining eligibility:

  • A person’s home and the land it is on
  • Burial plots for the individual and members of their immediate family
  • A person’s car
  • Life insurance policies with a face value or $1,500 or less
  • Burial funds that do not exceed $1,500 each for the individual and their spouse and if person is blind or have a disability

If persons are married, their spouse’s income and assets are considered for eligibility.

Social Security Disability versus Supplemental Security Income

Social Security Disability (SSD) is intended for individuals who have worked long enough to have earned work credits that qualify them to receive disability benefits through the Title II Program, provided that they are found to have met the medical and non-medical criteria.  (To receive Title II benefits, a person must not be working at a level that earns SGA level earnings, meaning you are not earning more than $1,090 a month.)

SSI disability, or Title 16 benefits, is intended for those who have never worked, such as children, those who have worked but not enough for SSD, those who were once insured but have lost their insured status because they have not worked enough in recent years, and finally, those who are insured for SSD but would only be entitled to receive a very small benefit amount each month.  (What Is the Difference Between Social Security Disability (SSDI) and SSI? Disability Secrets. 2015.)

Quicker Decisions on Disability Claims

If a disability applicant has a terminal condition, their disability claim is expedited through the TERI process.  TERI designated disability cases are generally passed in less than 30 days. (Social Security Disability Benefits for Terminal Illness (TERI) Patients, Disability Secrets. 2015.)

 Questions? Visit www.socialsecurity.gov or call 1-800-772-1213

Special Thanks to Ebony Adams and Lindsay Wasserman for their efforts in making this information available on our website.

Recently diagnosed with a brain tumor? Have questions or need support? Contact us today.