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Frequently Asked Questions about Receiving Benefits
Q: How do I know if/when I will get benefits?
A: After you apply for benefits, you will have to wait a few months to get a decision. Whether the Social Security Administration approved or denied your benefits, you will receive a letter in the mail stating their decision. The SSA begins paying benefits in the sixth month after a person's disability starts; this date is included in the letter sent to your home.
Q: What if I don't agree with the date they say my disability started?
A: You can appeal. If you feel that you are entitled to benefits starting from an earlier time than the SSA determined, contact an attorney to begin the appeals process. Some claimants are awarded more benefits because they can provide more or better documentation for their conditions.
Q: Do benefits change from month to month?
A: Not unless your income changes. Because SSI benefits are determined by deducting your income from a federal rate, your benefits will decrease if your income increases. SSD benefits are determined by your past work, so it is less likely that these benefits will change during your disability.
Q: Does my SSI/SSD approval entitle me to any other benefits?
A: Yes. If your application for Social Security Disability benefits is approved, you can get Medicare coverage to help offset the cost of your medical care. Supplemental Security Income recipients can get Medicaid and food stamps to help them pay for essential services.
Q: When will my benefits stop?
A: Your benefits continue for the length of your disability, until you return to substantial gainful activity, or become disqualified in any other way. When you reach retirement age, your Social Security disability benefits continue, but are called "retirement benefits" instead.
Q: Will trying to work stop my benefits?
A: Not right away. You can participate in trial work programs and continue receiving disability payments. You can work and earn an income over what is considered "substantial gainful activity" for nine months, not necessarily consecutive, within a five year period. Once you reach this limit, your benefits will stop.
Q: Why does Social Security take so long to give me my decision/benefits?
A: The Social Security Administration pays many different forms of benefits to millions of people each year. The process of determining eligibility has many levels and takes a long time to complete. Therefore, some applicants can wait years to be approved for their benefits. Unfortunately, there is no choice but to wait.
Q: My disabled adult child cannot manage his/her benefits from the SSA. Can I manage them?
A: Yes. Beneficiaries can choose a representative payee to manage their benefits for them. You can apply to be a payee at the Social Security Administration's website.