Social Security Disability, Social Phobia, Panic Attacks
This is a response to a question left by TiffanyM as a comment on a recent post:
It appears that you were initially approved for childhood supplemental security income (SSI) disability benefits due to social phobia with panic attacks. However, when your father died you qualified for surviving child benefits that may or may not have terminated your entitlement to SSI disability. SSI is a need based disability program that is subject to income and resource limits, so depending upon the amount of your benefit from your father's record you may or may not have been entitled to both SSI and surviving child benefits.
You stated that you received child benefits on your deceased father’s record until you got married, which would be correct since adult disabled child benefits do terminate when an individual marries someone who does not receive Social Security disability benefits.
Now this is where it gets a little bit confusing. Am I right in assuming that once you married you began to receive SSI disability benefits again? I think that you are saying that somehow Social Security missed giving you an age 18 redetermination (adult decision) on your SSI disability because when you were 18 you were receiving surviving adult child benefits.
This seems a little strange because if you were receiving surviving child benefits on your father’s record when you were twenty one or twenty two you must have been determined to be disabled as an adult child, unless they just adopted your SSI children’s decision without making sure you had had an adult medical determination.
This does sometimes happen, and it seems that you must have fallen through the cracks, until your disability claim came up for a review. All disability claimants have their disability claims reviewed periodically, usually every three to seven years.
Most likely, when your disability claim came up for review it was discovered that even though you are an adult your disability was based upon childhood disability rules and guidelines. The Social Security disability examiner had to review your disability claim using adult disability criteria, and it is my guess that you did not meet adult disability criteria for your condition.
Once you had a denial of benefits you were allowed to appeal Social Security’s disability decision, however it appears that you may not have filed for disability benefit continuation soon enough or that there may be a special rule that determines that benefits cannot be continued if an individual's disability benefit entitlement is based upon erroneous evaluation criteria (i.e. an adult entitlement based upon childhood criteria).
I am not sure what the problem was, but you mentioned that the representative told you that benefits could not be continued because you have not had an adult disability decision (age 18 redetermination), and I am guessing that “hold on my case for payments owed” means that you now have an overpayment due to the cessation of your disability entitlement.
Now, you are wondering what to do because of your situation at home with a spouse who is out of work, a child, and sick mother all depending on you for support and shelter. While I sympathize with the dilemma you are in, Social Security has no immediate disability benefits payable while you wait on a disability hearing that may take months to be scheduled.
Nationwide statistics indicate that the average wait time is over a year and closer to two years. You're correct, I did mention that some work activity is possible while waiting on a disability decision (and for that matter some work activity is allowed even once you have become entitled to disability benefits). Individuals are allowed to make $980.00 gross per month in the year 2009 without it affecting your potential entitlement to disability.
Each year this amount increases a little bit; consequently you should check each year to see what the substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit is. Additionally, you mentioned that in earlier years you had worked long enough to meet the rent or a couple weeks here and there to make ends meet, but that you have always had to stop working due to the problems that you continue to have with social phobia and panic attacks. These periods of work may be considered to be unsuccessful work attempts if Social Security ever evaluates them, however I must once again caution you to make sure that you do not earn over the SGA monthly earning limit.
I cannot advise you as to whether or not you should try to work or not. I can only give you the monthly SGA limit, and remind you that should you go over that limit you may cause your disability hearing to be denied on the grounds that you are performing substantial gainful activity (SGA). While your situation is very stressful it is not uncommon, especially since there is such a long wait for disability hearings.
If you can keep your work activity at a level that will not affect your potential entitlement to disability, you, statistically speaking, have a very good chance of being approved for disability benefits at your administrative law judge hearing. In fact, about two thirds of all of those who attend Social Security disability hearings win their disability benefits.
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