What to Know about Social Security Disability in Arizona


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Social Security Disability Myths vs Facts

Myth
The government will soon cut everyone off of disability benefits.

Fact
The disability program is not bankrupt, nor are all recipients likely to be cut off. However, the
government could, in the future, change the meaning of disability so that it is harder or easier for future applicants to be approved.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which is also called Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Title II benefits, are benefits based on what you have paid into the Social Security system. When you work, you pay taxes, which gives you quarters of coverage. If you have paid in for enough quarters of coverage, you can be paid Social Security Disability Insurance if you meet the other disability requirements. Even if you meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability, you cannot get SSDI if you do not have enough quarters of coverage.

The amount of SSDI payable to you depends on how much you have earned and paid in taxes. The Social Security Administration has a complicated formula for calculating your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA), which is the amount that you can be paid as your monthly SSDI benefit. If you obtain SSDI, your spouse and children may also be entitled to receive benefits based upon your earnings record. These benefits are known as auxiliary or dependents benefits.

When you apply for SSDI, you claim an onset date of disability, which is the date you were no longer able to perform substantial gainful occupation on a sustained basis. If you are found to be disabled, the Social Security Administration will establish your onset date of disability. When your SSD benefits are calculated, there is always a five-month waiting period, which begins on the first of the following month. For example, if you are found to be disabled as of March 5, 2017, the five-month waiting period would be April – August, meaning September 2017 would be the first month you would be entitled to receive SSDI benefits. Past due or back Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are payable for up to one year prior to the date of application.

Medicare benefits are payable to the claimant on the 24th month of entitlement to receive SSDI. If September 2017 is the first month of entitlement to receive SSDI, September 2019 is the first month of entitlement to Medicare coverage.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Supplemental Security Income (SSI), also called Title 16 benefits, are benefits based on income and resources. If you have not paid enough into the system to qualify to receive SSDI, you may qualify to receive SSI. SSI is intended to provide monthly income to US citizens and legal permanent residents with limited income and resources. You do not need to have a history of working to receive SSI. To qualify, you must meet the disability requirements and be under the income and resource limits for the program.

The disability test is the same for both SSDI and SSI. It is possible to receive both SSDI and SSI if your monthly SSDI amount is very small. When you receive both SSDI and SSI, you are said to be receiving concurrent benefits. Unlike SSDI, SSI does not result in any past due benefits prior to the date of application. If you are found to be disabled as of the date of application, SSI is payable as of the first full month after the date of application. Also, unlike SSDI, SSI does not result in any benefits to spouses and children. Benefits are only payable to the claimant.

If you qualify to receive SSI by meeting both the disability and income and resource requirements, you automatically qualify to receive Medicaid. In Arizona, the Medicaid program is the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS).

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Disabled Widow(er)s Insurance Benefits (DWIB)

Disabled Widow(er)s Insurance Benefits (DWIB) are payable to a widow or widower and are paid on the earnings record of the deceased spouse. The disability test for DWIB is the same as it is for SSDI and SSI. There are additional requirements that must be met for DWIB. You must be between 50 and 60 years old. Also, your disability must start either before or within seven years of the deceased spouse’s date of death, with limited exceptions. This is known as the prescribed period. DWIB are not based on your earnings record. The benefits are payable based on the deceased spouse’s earnings record. There are special rules that allow a surviving divorced spouse to get benefits based upon the record of a deceased former spouse.

Disabled Adult Child (DAC) Benefits

Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefits are payable to an adult child and are paid on the earnings record of a parent. The disability test for DAC benefits is the same as it is for SSDI and SSI. There are additional requirements that must be met to be eligible for DAC benefits. Disability must be established before age 22. You are eligible for DAC benefits if a parent is deceased or starts receiving retirement or disability benefits.

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