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Social Security questions answered

V-SS-VondaVantilBy Vonda VanTil, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

Question: My brother had an accident at work last year and is now receiving Social Security disability benefits for himself, his wife, and their daughter. Before his accident, he helped support his son from a previous relationship. Is his son entitled to some benefits as well?

Answer: Regardless of whether your brother was married to his son’s mother, his son may qualify for Social Security benefits on his record. Someone should file an application on his behalf. If he is found to be eligible, both children would receive equal benefits. Learn more by reading our online publication, Disability Benefits (Publication No. 05-10029) at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10029.html.

Question: I understand that to get Social Security disability benefits, my disability must be expected to last at least a year. Do I have to wait a year before I can apply for benefits?

Answer: No. If you believe your disability will last a year or longer, apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled. It can take three to four months to process an application. If your application is approved, we will pay your first Social Security disability benefits for the sixth full month after the date your disability began. For more information about Social Security disability benefits, refer to Disability Benefits (Publication No. 05-10029) at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10029.html.

Question: What are the rules for getting Supplemental Security Income (SSI)? I’m thinking about applying.

Answer: To be eligible to receive SSI benefits, you must be disabled, blind, or age 65 or older. You also must have limited income and resources. Income is defined as wages, Social Security benefits, and pensions. Income also includes food and shelter you receive from others. Social Security does not count all of your income when deciding whether you qualify for SSI. Resources include bank accounts, cash, stocks, and bonds. You may be able to get SSI if your resources are worth no more than $2,000 ($3,000 for a couple). Learn more by reading our publication, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/11000.html.

Question: I have an appointment to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). What kind of information will I need to take with me?

Answer: So the application process can go smoothly, you should bring:

Your Social Security number;

Your original birth certificate or other proof of your age;

Information about the home where you live, such as your mortgage or your lease and landlord’s name;

Payroll slips, bank balances, insurance policies, burial fund records, and other information about your income and the things you own;

Proof of U.S. citizenship or eligible noncitizen status; and

If you are applying for SSI because you are disabled or blind, the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of doctors, hospitals, and clinics that you have visited.

Learn more by reading our publication, You May Be Able To Get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/11069.html.

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