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Disability Programs

Disability Programs in Washington State

SSDI And SSI Attorneys and Disability Programs – You get experienced attorneys and a law firm staff working as a complete team to help you get SSDI or SSI benefits that you are entitled to, when you choose Maddox & Laffoon, P.S. in Olympia, WA.

Disability Programs & SSDI And SSI AttorneysDisability Programs

Serving disability claimants since 1980, we have acquired the knowledge to navigate the system as efficiently as possible on your behalf. We take pride in offering you a relaxing office atmosphere where you can expect only compassion, confidentiality, and full support from our entire staff for your SSDI or SSI claim.

There are essentially four SSA programs that will pay you a monthly benefit if YOU are found to be disabled. (1) Social Security Disability benefits are based on your own earnings record and Social Security payroll taxes you have paid into the system when you were able to work. (2) Widow benefits are based on Social Security payroll taxes your deceased spouse paid into the system. (3) Child benefits are based on Social Security payroll taxes your deceased parent paid. (4) SSI benefits are federal welfare. Even if you have no work credits, you may receive SSI if you are disabled and poor.

Social Security Disability (SSD, Title II)

This is not welfare – this is an entitlement program based on Social Security taxes you have paid into the system. This is the same type of benefit you receive when you reach Full Retirement Age (67), you just get it sooner because you had to stop working before FRA because of a disability.

Includes eligibility for Disability Programs for Medicare (Begins 24 mos after the first month of eligibility)

Monthly benefit amount (PIA) – varies depending upon how much you paid in Social Security taxes over your working life, with a Maximum of $4,873 (2024) and an Average of $1,907/month (2024)

Your dependent children may also be eligible for benefits if you are. The Family Max is usually 150% PIA. So, your minor and/or disabled adult children may receive 50% of your PIA, split equally among them.

Retroactive SSD benefits may be available up to 12 months prior to your application date – if you were disabled then

  • Currently, there is a 5-month waiting period. For the first 5 months of your disability, you will not receive any money (but watch for the Stop the Wait Act)

There are no income or resources limitations for SSD benefits, but you must be “insured” for them – i.e. have enough quarters of coverage.

  • 20/40 test – you must have worked and paid taxes for 20/40 quarters (5/10 years) prior to the day you became disabled.
  • A quarter of coverage in 2024 is $1,730, which means that if you earn as little as $6,920, you will have earned all 4 quarters available in that year.
  • There is a special rule for young workers. If you are < 31 years old, you need only ½ quarters since age 21 (with a minimum 6 quarters) in order to be insured for SSD. For example, if you are 25 years old and become disabled, you need to have worked only 8 quarters (½ of the 16 quarters since age 21) to be eligible – rather than the full 20 quarters.

Disability Programs for Widow/Widower Benefits

If you are a widow or widower, you may be entitled to benefits based on your deceased spouse’s earning record.

  • If you are 60 years old or older; OR
  • If you are between the ages of 50-59 and are disabled.

You must have been married at least 9 months prior to your spouse’s death (except for accidents, service death)

There is a 7 year “prescribed period” after the death of your spouse. This means that you either turned 60 or became disabled (and you are 50 years old or older) within 7 years after your spouse’s death.

Disability Programs for Child’s Benefits, also dubbed Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefits

If a parent is deceased, retired, or disabled themselves, you may be eligible for disability benefits based on your parent’s earning record – IF

  • You can establish that your disability began prior to age 22; and
  • You are unmarried.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI, Title XVI)

This is a Federal Welfare program

Benefits may be offset by interim State welfare benefits (ABD in WA)

Includes eligibility for categorical Medicaid (Begins the month of SSI eligibility)

Monthly benefit amount (in 2024) = $943 single/$1,415 couple both on SSI

But these benefits may be reduced by 1/3 if living rent-free (ISM)

  • Rent-free is not the same as homeless
  • Bona fide Loan Agreements to repay rent will avoid ISM
    • repayment cannot depend on receipt of SSI benefits

Retroactive benefits are available from the month following the application

  • If you were disabled then
  • If you met the financial restrictions then

          Income limitations

  • If you have income, SSA expects you to spend that on your living expenses before they pay you federal welfare funds. They also want to encourage you to work if you can. For that reason, there are different rules depending on whether your income is earned or passive.
  • Any passive unearned income such as gifts, inheritances, rent paid to you, annuity payments etc … will be deducted from your SSI benefit, $ for $. Thus, if you have unearned income of $943 or more, you will not qualify for SSI due to excess income.
  • Any earned income from working will be deducted from your SSI benefit, but not $ for $. The first $80 you earn in a month will be disregarded. After that, your SSI benefit will be reduced at a rate of $1 for every $2 earned. Thus, in 2024, if you earn $1966 or more per month, you will not qualify for any SSI due to excess income.
  • In addition to your income, SSA will consider the income of spouses and parents who live in the same household. If you are married and living with your spouse, they will deem much of that income to you, using the same rules that apply to earned vs passive income. If you are a child (not yet 18 years old), and you live with a parent, much of that parent’s income will be deemed to you. The rationale is that a spouse or parent has a legal obligation of support, which is presumed before federal welfare money is paid out.

        Resources limitations

  • If you have cash or things that can easily be turned into cash, you are expected to use that to cover your living expenses before collecting federal welfare benefits.
  • If you have more than $2,000 in resources, you will not qualify for SSI due to excess resources. (The couple rate is $3,000)
  • Exempt resources: the home you live in, one car, furnishings, personal items, burial plot, clothing.
  • If you are over-resources because you own an interest in real estate, that may be exempt if you are unable to sell it. This is an issue in cases such as inheritances, where there is joint ownership of real property and not all the owners are willing to sell. You must attempt to sell your property or divest, and be able to document it before SSA will exclude the property as a resource.

Whichever program you have applied for, our claims Representation Includes:

  • FREE consultations
  • No fee unless your claim is successful
  • Paperwork paperwork paperwork – we will help you with all that paperwork
  • Open door communication – call us anytime and if we are not available, we will get back to you by the next business day
  • Gathering of your medical evidence and uploading it into your disability file
  • Intensive one-on-one hearing preparation with the person who will be your representative at the hearing
  • You will not be alone at your hearing; we will be there with you to help present your case and to cross-examine SSA’s medical and vocational witnesses
  • Legal analysis of any unfavorable decisions and your appeal rights, and an honest assessment of the likelihood of the success of an appeal
  • Post-entitlement work to ensure that your benefits are correctly calculated and properly paid

Maddox & Laffoon specializes in Social Security Disability and SSI law only.

If you have any questions about these programs, please give us a call at Maddox & Laffoon. CONSULTATIONS ARE FREE.

Contact Maddox & Laffoon, P.S. today at 360-786-8276 or 1-800-640-8295, or browse our website for more information about disability law or our attorney profile.