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Understanding Your Social Security Disability Benefit Statements

In 2011 as part of a cost-saving measure, the Social Security Administration (SSA) discontinued mailing out annual benefits statements letting people know what they were entitled to receive from the SSA.

Instead of mailing out the hard copies of the statements, the SSA would instead email copies. However, this decision was met with criticism by both consumer advocates and some members of congress who worried workers would not see the updates. business accounting.jpg

In response to the criticism, the SSA resumed mailing paper statements in September, but only to certain people. Those who will receive paper copies of benefit information under the new mailing system include people who have not registered an account at My Social Security online, as well as people who are not receiving benefits and who are within three months of turning 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55 and 60. After the age of 60, workers will get an annual mailed statement.

The paper and emailed statements that the SSA sends out not only provide important details about what retirement benefits you will be entitled to, but also about what benefits you should receive if you become disabled and are not able to work any longer. A Boston disability lawyers know it can be confusing to read these statements, but the Huffington Post provides a guide.

Reading Your Social Security Statement

The SSA will now send an estimated 48 million statements each year now that it has returned to partial mailings. Those who have signed up for an online account can access and print their statements at any time.

However, the SSA is closing field offices and reducing the services the agency provides to the public, so it will not be as readily available to provide assistance to people who need help understanding what benefits they are entitled to. Being able to read your statement and understand its provisions is not only important so you can plan for the future but is also essential in case there are mistakes necessitating correction.

As the Huffington Post reports, there is a four-page standard statement issued. Page 1 has an introduction. Page 2 provides details on your estimated benefits. The first listing is estimated benefits for retirement, which are expressed in today’s dollars and which reflect your monthly benefits based on the age when you begin to collect. The calculations are provided to show what happens if you plan to retire at 62, 67 or 70.

The second listing on page two addresses your estimated disability benefits and the third is your estimated family or survivor benefits. This is the detail on which you should focus if you become too sick to work. Your disability benefits will typically be lower than the retirement benefits you would receive if you worked to full retirement age, and not everyone is even eligible for disability depending upon their age and their work history at the time they got sick. You need to pay careful attention to how much you would receive and whether you qualify, as these benefits may be the only source of income you have if you become unable to work due to illness or injury.

If an error is identified on your benefits statements, you will need to start the correction process. It can take time to fix the problem, so you need to do this before you become sick and need to receive disability income from the SSA.

If you need help getting Social Security benefits in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.

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Funding Road Construction on the Backs of the Disabled, July 16, 2014, Boston Social Security Disability Lawyers Blog