Following Approval of Your Social Security Disability Claim, Part I

Now that you’ve made it through the process of applying for Social Security disability benefits, it’s important to understand the steps that will take place following the receipt of a favorable decision.   Understanding the procedures which follow can help ensure there are no unexpected surprises down the road and that you are aware of all of the benefits, as well as options, available to you.

If your favorable decision is on your initial application or on reconsideration (in Maine and Massachusetts only, as New Hampshire does not have a reconsideration process and an appeal proceeds directly to hearing),  especially if the claim involves Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) alone with no corresponding Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim,  it is very common to see that the funds will arrive first by way of direct deposit to your bank account even prior to the receipt of a written decision in your case.   In such a circumstance, the initial or reconsideration decision may be in the form a notice of award  (with no separate notice explaining that there has been a favorable decision) that will come within a week of the funds.

Assuming there are concurrent claims for both Social Security disability insurance and Supplemental Security Income, one will see that their local Social Security office will need to process the SSI claim first (given it’s a welfare claim and, thus, given priority) and may need to set up what is referred to as a pre-effectuation review conference (called a PERC by the local offices) to go over your income and assets during the time period at issue for your SSI claim so as to determine entitlement.  In such a circumstance, it can take a number of months for both the SSI and SSDI amounts to be properly determined given a multi-step process that takes place: 1) the SSI claim is processed first (blind to the amount of SSDI entitlement one may ultimately be determined to be entitled to receive) with an initial payment going out to the claimant, 2) the SSDI is determined but withheld until such time as a redetermination of the SSI entitlement can take place and 3) any overpayment is then deducted from the withheld retroactive SSDI benefits before issuance of a final payment can be made.

As we have discussed in our May 18, 2017  blog post, whether you reside in Massachusetts, New Hampshire or Maine,  a Social Security lawyer should discuss with you whether you might want to withdraw your SSI claim should there be an interim assistance lien that may need to be repaid.  As discussed in that prior post, doing so may end up saving you thousands of dollars.

Likewise, it is important to recognize that the local Social Security office may not automatically process the additional family benefits to which one may be entitled, such as to minor children or to one’s spouse, unless there is follow-up with the local office reminding them of these additional claims.  The local SSA office may need to set up a time to set up the children’s claims to ensure that the payment goes to the correct household (as payment will be sent to the parent most responsible for caring on a day to day basis for the children).   Assuming there is a split household and one has been ordered to pay child support,  it is important that your  Social Security lawyer  explain the need to contact their family law attorney to seek (if they have not already filed such a motion with the court) a modification of the child support order to read that the auxiliary Social Security disability benefits for the children will be in lieu of child support.  The earlier such a motion is filed, the more likely it is that one will end up owing less in the way of retroactive child support.

In part II, we will continue our effort to outline the important considerations one should be taking into account at the point you receive a favorable decision.  In the meantime, should you or a loved one have concerns as to how your Social Security disability claim is proceeding, you should feel free to contact the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith for our advice as to your circumstances at 1-800-773-8622.