SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
There are several programs that are administered by the Social Security Administration including Social Security Annuity (SSA or retirement), Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, and Survivor benefits. Each program has different eligibility requirements. Click here for information on applying for benefits.
My office is frequently contacted by constituents who have questions about their retirement benefits or their applications for disability benefits. Here are a few of the most common questions my office receives concerning Social Security benefits and programs:
When can I begin collecting Social Security Annuity/SSA (retirement) benefits?
You may begin collecting retirement benefits at age 62, however since this is before “full retirement age”, your benefit will be reduced. Full retirement age is based on the year of your birth. To learn more about what your full retirement age is, and how much your benefit would be reduced if you file for SSA before that date, please visit the SSA Retirement Planner page.
How can I get information about my Social Security retirement benefits?
Your local Social Security office can help you with this issue. Visit the Social Security Regional Site to find your local Social Security office.
Social Security Website
How do I file for Social Security Disability (SSDI) and how long does it take to process a claim?
You may file for SSDI in person at the local Social Security office, over the phone by calling 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778 (TTY only), or online. This site also provides guidance on ensuring that your application is complete and information on what to do if your claim is denied.
Can I continue working after I begin collecting SSA (retirement) benefits?
Yes, you may continue working while collecting SSA benefits however in some cases there are restrictions on the amount you can earn.
If you begin collecting SSA benefits before reaching full retirement age, your monthly SSA benefit will be reduced by $1 for every $2 earned above the annual earnings limit. The 2016 annual earnings limit is $15,720.
In the year you reach full retirement age, the reduction in benefit decreases to $1 for every $3 earned and the annual income limit increases to $41,880.
Beginning the month you reach full retirement age, you can collect your SSA benefit with no limit on annual earnings.
How long does it take to process Social Security Disability claims?
To qualify for disability benefits, you must have a physical and/or mental problem that keeps you from working for at least 12 months or is expected to result in death. You must also have worked long enough (earned a certain number of “credits”) and recently enough under the Social Security System. The specific numbers are handled on a case-by-case basis.
The times below are merely estimates, but represent what people in the district have experienced over the past few years:
Initial Processing - 6 to 8 weeks
- Some cases are approved in this first step. If your case is denied at this level, you are encouraged to apply for Reconsideration.
Reconsideration - 6 to 8 weeks
- Like the Initial Processing, this is all done through paperwork. If your case is denied here, you are encouraged to request a hearing in front of an Administration Law Judge.
Hearings and Appeals - 9 to 12 months
- An Administrative Law Judge will hear your claim at this level. It usually takes 9 to 12 months to get a hearing. It can take a few months longer to get a decision. You may want to get an attorney or other qualified individual to help represent you in your hearing. If you are denied at this level, you can appeal your case to the Appeals Council.
Appeals Council - 24 to 36 months
- If your claim is not approved by the Appeals Council, your only option is to file a lawsuit if you want to continue your claim.
If you receive disability benefits, the benefits won't begin until the sixth full month after the date the Social Security Administration determines the disability began. In addition, you must wait two years before you qualify for Medicare coverage.
What can the Congresswoman do to help with my Disability claim?
I am always happy to help constituents who need assistance with a disability claim. However, there are limits to what I can do. At my request, Social Security officials will "flag" a particular case and keep me updated throughout the process. This communication can really help a person understand what is happening with their case, so they can make other decisions regarding their life and family. I do not have the authority to expedite your case or to overturn any decision made by the Social Security Administration.
My office is always available to assist you with issues that you may be experiencing with Social Security. If you cannot find the answer to your questions through these links or would like my office to contact the Social Security Administration on your behalf, please complete my privacy release form.