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Is Social Security Disability Taxable?

If you receive Social Security disability benefits you might be wondering whether or not the income is taxable. As we head into tax season it’s important you have all the facts. The short answer is, it depends. For a good majority of people, it is not taxable. However, for those who receive income from another source or have a spouse that receives additional income, your benefits might be taxable. The more income you have as an individual or as a married couple, the likelihood you have to pay taxes on Social Security disability benefits is greater. The IRS sets the thresholds for what’s taxable.

Here’s the breakdown:

If you file a federal tax return as an individual:

  • If your income is between $25,000 and $34,000 – you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits.
  • If your income is more than $34,000 – up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.

     

If you file a federal tax return as a joint return:

  • If you and your spouse have a combined income between $32,000 and $44,000 – you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits.
  • If you and your spouse have a combined income of more than $44,000 – up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.

 

It’s important to note if you are married and file a separate tax return the likelihood of paying taxes on your income is higher.

If you receive Social Security Disability benefits, be on the lookout for the Social Security Benefit Statement (Form SSA-1099). You receive this Benefit Statement each January, which shows the amount of benefits you received in the previous year. Use this statement when you complete your federal income tax return to help you figure out if your benefits are subject to tax.

Still have questions about your specific situation? Tax law is complex, and we recommend that you consult with a tax professional.

Roose & Ressler is a team of Social Security disability lawyers with more than 40 years of experience handling disability claims in northern Ohio. We have offices located throughout northern Ohio in Mansfield, Toledo, Wooster, and Lorain. We are passionate about helping you appeal or win your claim. In addition to offering a free initial consultation, we are caring lawyers committed to understanding the frustrations and delays people experience with Social Security disability claims in Ohio.

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What do I need to do to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

SSI is a Social Security program designed to help disabled children, adults and the aged (65 and older) who meet strict financial criteria.

For people ages 18 to 64, you can start the disability application process for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) online. However, don’t rush to start your application until you go through the checklist to ensure you have all the information needed to fill out the application. The application may take you between one to two hours to complete all the steps. You also have to complete each step before you move on to the next step. You can take a break after each step and don’t have to do it all in one sitting. You will be asked if you intend to file an application for SSI.  Be sure to click, “yes.”

For children under 18 years old, you can start the application process for child SSI benefits at the same link as above for those 18 to 64.  As the parent or legal custodian, you will sign the required documents for your child’s application.

There are four steps in the Online Disability Application Process for both children and adults:

  1. Provide Background Information,
  2. Provide Disability Information,
  3. Sign Medical Release, and
  4. Confirmation.

After you finish the steps above, Social Security should call you to complete the application.  But we recommend that you call them the day after you complete the report and make an appointment to complete the application. Together, you and a Social Security claims representative will review the information you provided online, discuss whether the income and resources of the household are within the allowed limits, and complete the SSI application process.

If applying online is not the best fit, you can start an application by phone by calling 1-800-772-1213 or your local social security office to make an appointment.

For people ages 65 and older, and in financial need, you cannot start an SSI application online.  You can start an application by phone by calling 1-800-772-1213 or your local social security office to make an appointment.

Applying for Social Security disability benefits can be a difficult, emotionally draining, and complex process.  And remember, the month you file determines the month your payments begin, so don’t delay! If you believe you may be eligible for disability benefits, contact one of our Social Security disability lawyers who can review your case and determine whether you are likely to qualify for benefits.

At Roose & Ressler, we are here to help walk you through each step of the process so you’re clear and comfortable regarding any procedures or actions that would affect your case.

Contact Roose & Ressler today to set up a free consultation: https://www.rooselaw.com/contact/.

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What Type of Questions Will Be Asked for Your Disability Application?

Disability Application

Social Security needs to collect a significant amount of information from you to begin the process of determining your eligibility for disability. If you file an online application, most of this information will be provided in writing. If you are unable to file an online application or prefer not to do so, Social Security should collect the information by telephone interview or perhaps in person (at least in pre-Covid times).  This will set the foundation for your claim. It establishes the reasons you think you are disabled, points Social Security to where to get the information to prove it, and is where you begin to establish credibility.

Your chances of being approved for Social Security Disability benefits are increased by hiring an attorney that focuses on social security law.

The Interview Questions

You will need to answer questions in three different categories: Personal Information, Medical Treatment History, and Work History Evaluation. It helps to have this information collected before you start the online filing or before having a disability interview with a Social Security representative.

Personal Information

  1. Marital Status
  2. Dependents or Children Under 19
  3. Living Arrangements
  4. Military Service

If you are also applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you will also be asked about your personal financial information. Even if you have filed your application online, Social Security will contact you directly to collect this information.

  1. Bank Accounts
  2. Vehicle Information
  3. Insurance Policies
  4. Real Estate/Land Ownership
  5. Other Assets

Medical Treatment HistoryDisability Application questionnaire

Your medical treatment information is needed for at least 12 months before the date of the onset of your disability. Selecting the date of disability onset (when your medical conditions became so severe as to prevent substantial and gainful work) is important and will tell Social Security how far back to request medical records (usually 12 months before). The following information will be needed.

  1. The date that your conditions became disabling
  2. Doctors’ Names
  3. Doctors’ Addresses
  4. Dates of Treatment
  5. All Medications
  6. All Medical Testing Information

Work History Evaluation

You will be asked about your work history, for up to the last fifteen years prior to your onset of disability. The questions will be focused on the type of work you have done and the physical requirements of each job (lbs. lifted, time standing/walking and sitting, etc…). You’ll also be asked for dates, employer locations, and perhaps contact information of your previous employers.

Tips for Your Interview

At this initial stage of your application, SSA is merely on a fact-finding mission. Social Security’s claim representatives at the local offices are not there to give opinions or make judgments about your case. However, there are several things you can do to help this initial fact-gathering step of your application go well.

  1. Be respectful when interacting with Social Security.
  2. Dress appropriately for an in-person interview.
  3. Tell the truth. Do not exaggerate your answers.
  4. Be specific.  Don’t be vague with answers. Give straightforward, factual answers.
  5. Be clear and concise.
  6. Don’t focus on issues not related to proving disability. For example, not being able to find a job or a bad economy is not evidence of disability.

Hiring an attorney prior to applying can improve your chances of approval. An experienced and knowledgeable professional can guide you and help you avoid mistakes in the process. If you are local to the Northern Ohio area and have questions about applying for Social Security Disability benefits, the team at Roose & Ressler Law Firm would be happy to set up a free consultation to review your case.

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What is Considered a Disabling Condition?

You have a condition or illness that prevents you from earning a full-time income and you’ve been told by friends, family and maybe even a doctor or caseworker, that you should apply for Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI and/or SSI).

However, you’ve heard that it can be an arduous process and that it’s not easy to get approval.  So, how do you know if your particular circumstance even qualifies for benefits?

Before you begin filling out an application, there are a few things to consider when it comes to your disabling condition.

3 Keys to Qualifying Conditions

To begin, there are three main questions to ask yourself about your disabling condition. Answering these may help you figure out exactly what is considered an impairment that could qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits.

1. Is your disabling condition listed on the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Listing of Impairments?

Also known as the Blue Book, this comprehensive list is split into two sections.  One is for adults and the other is for children 18 years and younger.  If your condition is listed in the Blue Book, you may be eligible for SSDI or SSI benefits.

Please note that the impairments listed in the Blue Book are not the only ones that are approved by the SSA.  

If you have an impairment listed but do not meet the exact criteria OR if you have an impairment that is not exactly the same, but similar to one listed, you may still be able to qualify.  Be prepared to make your case to SSA as to how and why your impairments are as limiting as the ones on the list.

2.  Is your disability long-term?  

SSDI and SSI benefits are not meant for short-term impairments no matter how limiting they might be.  Your condition will only be approved if it has already lasted or is expected to last 12 months or longer (or expected to end in death).

3.  If you are under the age of 50, do your medical conditions prevent you from successfully performing any type of full-time work?  If you are over 50, do they significantly limit your ability to stand and lift?

The answer to this may seem subjective, but if you feel that your condition prevents or limits your ability to work full-time, you will have the opportunity to make your case using medical records.  It is imperative that you always tell your medical professionals about all of your symptoms and limitations so that they may record them.

I Think My Condition Would Qualify for Benefits. Do I Apply For SSDI and SSI Benefits?

Now that you have answered these three key questions and analyzed your responses, you might be thinking that your condition may qualify for SSDI and/or SSI benefits.  The next step is to begin the application process.

  • OK, so HOW do I apply for SSDI and SSI disability benefits?  There are many free resources available to walk you through the application process.  Speaking to a lawyer that knows SSDI and SSI law may be beneficial.
  • Worried About Making a Mistake With Your Application? Download our FREE GUIDE “Common Mistakes People Make When Applying for Disability” to help you navigate the application process and to give you a head start on avoiding any simple mistakes.
  • I’m Still Not Sure If My Condition Qualifies.  How Do I Find Out More?

You may not have cut-and-dry answers to the three questions listed.  Now you are still unsure and don’t know where to go for answers.

Speaking to an experienced professional, like an attorney, may be the next step.  They can help you decide if pursuing SSDI and/or SSI benefits is worth your time and energy.  Additionally, they may even be able to help you with the application or appeals process.

To speak with the experienced team at Roose & Ressler about your impairment and application, contact us today.  A consultation is no cost to you and may be valuable in helping you determine whether or not your condition will qualify for benefits.

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An attorney can give you the best possible chance that your claim will be approved. Sometimes the process is confusing or complicated. An attorney can explain what is happening and can ease your mind when there is nothing to be concerned about and take action for you when there is a concern. An attorney can be your partner, walking through the process with you, from beginning to end, including making sure that you are paid all the benefits to which you are entitled when you win.

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COVID-19

Since the COVID-19 pandemic remains a threat to our clients and staff, in-person meetings continue to be on hold. Roose & Ressler continues to conduct our work by telephone, e-mail, mail, and by videoconferencing.  We are maintaining sanitized space, and require face coverings when in-person contacts are needed. Even though some staff are working in our offices at some locations, we ask that you call ahead, so that we are ready for you. All staff in our Toledo location continue to work from home, but we can arrange for documents to be dropped off and to meet you for necessary in-person contacts.

Social Security’s offices, including the hearing offices, remain closed for most purposes.  Disability hearings have been held by telephone conferences since April 2020.  Social Security is rolling out a video-conferencing hearing option in which all parties can appear from separate locations using the Microsoft Teams platform.

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Does Cheating Explain a Decline in Applications for Disability Benefits?

The Washington Examiner recently published an article with the headline, “Hurrah, There are fewer disabled and fewer cheats.”  It offered an explanation for the sustained drop in applicants for Social Security disability and SSI benefits and a decline in the total number of people receiving disability benefits (www.nytimes.com/2018/06/19/business/economy/social-security-applications.html).  According to the author, this welcome news reflects a “moral problem,” that many applicants and beneficiaries are frauds.   The reasoning goes that the reduction in applicants and beneficiaries is largely due to a strengthening economy.  And since there should be no connection between the strength of the economy and how many people are disabled, it can be deduced that “the system is rife with abuse by people who can work but would rather defraud the system than get off the sofa.”  I submit that the conclusion is too simplistic.

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Social Security Has Insufficient Staff to Manage Backlog

By Jon Ressler, Attorney, Roose & Ressler

I wrote last December about the Social Security disability backlog, highlighting the fact that the average wait for a hearing had grown to over 600 days and that a primary driver of the increasing backlog was insufficient funding. Another recent article at investmentnews.com/article/201803… describes the impact of insufficient funding on other Social Security services.

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Does SSA Care If Your Doctor Thinks You Are Disabled?

By Jon Ressler, Attorney, Roose & Ressler

For well over 20 years, Social Security acknowledged that your treating doctor has unique insight in assessing your medically-caused functional limitations. Not anymore.

If you filed a Social Security disability application since March 27, 2017, the voice of your treating doctor is now just one among many. Social Security adopted new rules about how it will weigh opinions from medical sources. This change will make proving disability more difficult in many cases and is likely to result in increased denials for claimants with genuine disability.

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Winning Your Disability Case by Combining Impairments

People who apply for Social Security disability have severely disabling conditions, which, unfortunately, do not automatically qualify them for benefits under the Social Security Disability rules.

Social Security Administration lists a number of impairments that automatically qualify an applicant for disability benefits. Most of these require very specific medical or laboratory findings. If your medical evidence meets the requirements of an impairment listing, you will automatically be found disabled. However, even if you do not meet the detailed criteria of a listed impairment, you may still qualify for Social Security disability benefits if your symptoms and diagnosis are “medically equivalent” (i.e. equal in severity) to the listed impairment may have a condition which is not found in the listed impairments but is equally severe in its debilitating effect. Or you may have a combination of impairments which are found on the list but lack one or more of the detailed criteria to qualify you under the Rules for disability; added together, though, they are medically equivalent to the listed impairments.

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The Order in Which Things Happen at the Hearing

What happens in the hearing room? Most judges commence Social Security disability hearings by recounting the “case history” of the disability claim and reciting the issues to be decided.

Although judges often recite what a claimant needs to prove in order to prove the case, they rarely give a well-defined and simple explanation. Rather, they usually state that the claimant must be “unable to perform substantial gainful activity which exists in significant numbers in the economy, considering your age, education and work experience.” Such a statement may give the claimant the false notion that they have to be bedridden to get disability benefits. This is the precise reason why you should seek the assistance of an Ohio disability lawyer.

The judge may question the claimant first and then give his or her disability lawyer the option to ask questions. Sometimes, if a claimant is well prepared to testify, the lawyer does not need to ask any questions.

Some judges may expect lawyers to do most of the questioning. If this is the case, the claimant should answer the lawyer’s questions with the utmost detail, as if talking to a stranger. The claimant should refrain from responding in incomplete answers simply because his or her lawyer already knows a lot about the case. Even though the judge may have read the file prior to the hearing, the claimant should assume that the judge knows very little about the case. As such, the claimant should give details, details, details.

So if you have been denied Social Security disability benefits, please fill out the claim evaluation form on this page to contact Ohio disability lawyers Roose & Ressler.

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Media

To members of the media, if you need expert information, insight or background research for a story you are working on regarding Social Security Disability Benefits and other factors related to Social Security legal issues, please contact our media relations firm at 440-695-0817 or email RRoeser@TheEisenAgency.com to set up an interview or call.

Speaking Engagements

To organizers of business events and seminars, our legal team looks forward to sharing insights and educational expertise regarding issues of Social Security Disability Law that affect Ohioans and other issues related to Social Security. If you need an educational speaker for an upcoming event, please fill out the following form: