August 12, 2021 at 8:00 am #27721
Read that title with a sarcastic tone. Just when I think I’ve got this disability thing down, something comes along and knocks the wind out of my sails. Yesterday, with the assistance of my Jaco, I grabbed two large envelopes from the mailbox. Across the top it says Social Security Administration. Great. What could they want? Unfortunately the Jaco doesn’t come with a letter opener attachment so it took some time to finagle them open. Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. Note to self I could probably add a letter opener to Jaco’s utensil holder. Apparently the SSA is looking to verify my wages to see if I’m still eligible for SSDI. Not just that, they want to go back to 2017. Plus it says I have 15 days to complete their thick packets including corroborating paperwork like paystubs and tax returns. One more perk of having a disability.
Not only is this request emotionally stressful, it’s physically taxing as well. Needless to say my dexterity isn’t what it used to be, so filling out those packets is going to be a challenge. They didn’t give me an online option. With that said I have my doubts I’ll accomplish the task by the deadline. Especially since organization isn’t my strong suit. EEK. It just makes me nervous. I’ve never been great at knowing the ins and outs of all the programs. My philosophy has been to live my life and I’ll figure it out as I go. Guess I know how I’ll be spending my weekend.
It confuses me how disability eligibility correlates to earnings. Alright, I get it to a point. What I see though is it suppressing potential. Not only that it causes undue stress, anxiety and is yet one more hoop we have to jump through that able bodied people don’t have to be concerned about.
Have you dealt with the Social Security Administration? Any advice?
August 12, 2021 at 3:27 pm #27763Lupa FParticipant
How do you do your taxes? I do mine online and they save all my returns for the last 5 years there.
Also, do you mean SSDI or SSI? They have different income requirements, with SSDI allowing higher outside income. This is what I could find for the current numbers: “To qualify for SSDI, you must earn less than $1,170 per month. To qualify for SSI, you must earn less than $735 per month.” But it’s only income from “gainful activity” that generally counts (things like insurance payments or interest usually don’t count).
I haven’t heard from the SSA in a long time, but I also haven’t tried to work so haven’t had any other real income. I got a form a few years after starting SSDI, but that was at least 10 years ago now. I’m actually surprised I’ve never gotten anything else from them. I have to fill out forms every year for my old employer.
August 13, 2021 at 9:03 am #27770
SSDI. Typically an accountant friend does my taxes. I usually have a copy on my computer, it’s just finding it. Ugh.
August 12, 2021 at 6:36 pm #27764Blake WatsonParticipant
There’s a somewhat non-obvious “loophole” that gives SSI the preferable income limit (potentially). It’s called Continued Medicaid Eligibility (Section 1619(B)).
The interesting bit here is:
If a SSI beneficiary has gross earnings higher than the threshold amount for his/her State, SSA can figure an individual threshold amount if that person has … Personal attendant whose fees are publicly funded; or Medical expenses above the average State amount.
That means the individual threshold for many of us is much higher than you might originally think. Unfortunately, I don’t know of a way to figure one’s individual threshold but you can roughly estimate it. Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer. 😄
August 13, 2021 at 9:03 am #27771
August 12, 2021 at 11:20 pm #27767Kelly MillerParticipant
The main thing s you have to worry about are Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) and Trial Work Period (TWP). Let’s start with Twp.
“During a trial work period, a beneficiary receiving Social Security disability benefits may test his or her ability to work and still be considered disabled. We do not consider services performed during the trial work period as showing that the disability has ended until services have been performed in at least 9 months (not necessarily consecutive) in a rolling 60-month period. In 2020, any month in which earnings exceed $910 is considered a month of services for an individual’s trial work period. In 2021, this monthly amount increases to $940.” (https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/twp.html)
As it says, you can earn as much as you want (even a million dollars) in that 9-month time and your SSDI check won’t stop. After the 9 are over (remember they don’t have to be consecutive, this helps people who might work seasonally or who may have worked a few months then got sick and went back after a month off), you fall under the SGA rules.
“To be eligible for disability benefits, a person must be unable to engage <b>in substantial gainful activity</b> (SGA). A person who is earning more than a certain monthly amount (net of impairment-related work expenses) is ordinarily considered to be engaging in SGA.” (https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/sga.html)
On this, notice where it says impairment-related work expenses or IRWEs. You can use things like PCAs you pay for, special transportation costs, probably even your dog food and vet bills to reduce your gross earnings to be under the limit hopefully.
Here are SGA amounts.
<div class=”iKJnec” role=”heading” aria-level=”3″>For non-blind individuals, the monthly SGA amount for 2021 is $1310.
Monthly substantial gainful activity amounts by disability type.</div>
I’ve included the 2 major links to get you started. There’s more info if you go to them. Remember, these rules are only for SSIDI. If you get SSI or both there are other guidelines. Let me know if you need those. I was actually a claims rep for SSI but I also did SSDI too when I worked at SSA.
Check the bottoms on the front of each form. There’s form numbers typed in small print that start with SSA- . They have a lot of forms on the website and you can make your own files on the computer so you can make it possible to complete them on there. Let know if you need help. Good luck!
August 13, 2021 at 9:27 am #27772
Thanks Kelly! The forms I received are SSA-820-BK and SSA-821-BK. I assume I received two because one of my part-time jobs is considered self-employment. There’s a line that says “If you do not return this form we will make a determination based on the evidence we have in our records.” On the other it says, “If you do not return this form, we may contact your employer or make a determination based on the evidence we have in our records.” My question is, is it in my best interest to complete the forms or just let them use what they have which looks basically correct but doesn’t take into account IRWE’s? They wanted it completed within 15 days. The notices are dated August 2nd and I received them on the 9th.
August 14, 2021 at 2:35 pm #27781Kelly MillerParticipant
DeAnn, I feel like it’s always in your best interest to complete the forms b/c A. it looks good that you’re trying to participate in helping the Claims Rep (CR) to do your info (despite popular opinion, CRs do have hearts and generally remember their clients, especially if they stick out for either good or bad reasons), B. the info in the letter may or may not be all they have, and C. just b/c the yearly income is correct doesn’t mean the monthly income is correct.
What the CR will do is divide your annual income by 12 unless they have each month broken down. The breakdown may help you if there were months you earned less than the SGA limits. The breakdown would definitely assist you if any of the months are in your TWP.
If you need extra time, I would send a quick note to the address on the return envelope. Be sure to keep a copy, date the letter, and put any initials or letters/numbers from the return envelope on to your mailing envelope. Don’t use the return envelope, save that for mailing your forms back. In the note, put that you received the forms 820 & 821, when you got them, when you’re supposed to have them back, and when you think you can return them. Yes, they already know all of that, but really you are protecting yourself by putting everything in your request. Be straight to the point and concise.
All of that said, if you’d still rather let them use what info they already have, then send a letter back in the included return envelope. This time you should explain you want them to use what they have. Again, be succinct and short. Above all else, PUT THE DATE & YOUR SSN on your letters
Remember: They can only use what’s in front of them from either source – you or IRS. For 2021, they won’t have IRS info (it’s not sent until June or later of 2022, depending on when your taxes are completed); so if you can fill in the forms for this yr only, gather all your paystubs from ’21 (originals will be returned, or you can send printouts from your payroll admin), write up an estimate of your net self-employment for ’21, and send it all back. This is probably the best way to go based on what you’ve shared with us.
Sorry I’m writing so much, but I want to make sure I give you all the details you need! Don’t hesitate to get in touch for anything else you have questions about, anytime.
Anyone can reach out with any questions about all things Social Security. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it here on the forum, absolutely email me @ [email protected].
August 18, 2021 at 9:05 am #27815
Thanks again for your words of wisdom! One of these days I’ll get the hang of this disability thing.
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