Common SSD Questions

Geoff McDonald & Associates FAQ's

Who is eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) payments?

The Social Security Administration’s impairment listing manual (commonly referred to as” the blue book”) lists a number of impairments, both physical and mental, that will automatically qualify an individual for SSD benefits.  For additional information, see our section on Common Types Of Disabling Injuries (link to section 34)

Can I work without losing my Social Security disability benefits?

Special rules allow you to work temporarily without losing your monthly Social Security disability benefits.  For example, the SSA’s trial work period allows you to test your ability to work for at least nine months without losing benefits.  As long as you remain disabled, you can get full Social Security disability benefits during those nine months – no matter how much you earn.

After your nine-month trial work period, the SSA still provides a safety net that allows you to work another three years risk free.  During those three years, you can work and still receive benefits for any month in which your earnings do not exceed $1,690 for blind individuals or $1,010 a month if you are not blind.

If I am approved for disability benefits, how much will I get per month?

The SSA cannot predict the amount of your monthly benefit.  SSD benefits are based on the amount of your average lifetime earnings (or those of certain family members) when those earnings are insured under Social Security. However, if you receive a payment from worker’s compensation, a public disability benefit or a pension based on earnings not insured under Social Security, it may reduce your benefit.

To see if you are eligible for SSD benefits, refer to the SSA’s Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool.

How long do I have to wait to find out if I will receive disability benefits?

The length of time it takes to receive a decision on your disability claim is from three to five months.

It can vary depending on several factors, but primarily on:

  • The nature of your disability;
  • How quickly we obtain medical evidence from your doctor or other medical source;
  • Whether it is necessary to send you for a medical examination in order to obtain evidence to support your claim; and
  • If your claim is randomly selected for quality assurance review of the decision.

Why is there a five-month waiting period for Social Security disability benefits?

The five month waiting period ensures that during the early months of disability, we do not pay benefits to persons who do not have long-term disabilities.  Social Security disability benefits can be paid only after you have been disabled continuously throughout a period of five full calendar months. Therefore, SSD benefits will be paid beginning with the sixth full month after the date your disability began.  You are not entitled to benefits for any month in the waiting period.

When do Social Security disability benefits end?

Your SSD benefits continue as long as your medical condition has not improved and you cannot work. The SSA will review your case from time-to-time to make sure you are still disabled.  If you are still receiving disability benefits when you reach full retirement age, your disability benefits will automatically convert to retirement benefits.

Do I have to pay income taxes on the benefits I receive?

You will have to pay Federal taxes on your Social Security benefits if you file a Federal tax return as an individual and your total income is more than $25,000.  If you file a joint return, you will have to pay taxes if you and your spouse have a total income of more than $32,000.  Social Security has no authority to withhold state or local taxes from your benefit.  Many states and local authorities do not tax Social Security benefits, including Virginia.

How do I contact the SSA about my benefits?

If you have further questions, you may visit the SSA’s online services, call their toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 or write to them at:

Social Security Administration
Office of Public Inquiries
Windsor Park Building
6401 Security Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21235

Most of the FAQs above are based on information obtained directly from the US Social Security Administration (SSA).