If you’ve been approved for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, congratulations! It is a huge relief to complete the application process and be approved. However, with your approval, it becomes important to plan for the changes that will occur in your life, especially in regards to finances and healthcare. Learn how to make the most of your SSD benefits by reading the valuable information below. Here are 5 things you should know about your SSD benefits:
#1: You will automatically be eligible for Medicare in two years
If you are approved for SSD benefits, you’ll be eligible for Medicare after a 24-month qualifying period. Your Medicare card will be mailed to you about three months before your 25th month of disability benefits.
Medicare is a complicated program and can be confusing. For example, there are four different parts: Part A covers hospital stays, Part B covers doctor visits, and Part D covers prescription drugs. Part C offers supplementary insurance through a third-party provider known as a “Medicare Advantage” plan, and can have lower out-of-pocket costs than Parts A and B. To choose your Medicare options, you need to consider many factors including:
- How well a particular plan covers the services you need
- How Medicare works with other coverage you may have
- The premiums associated with each plan
- What choices you have for doctors and hospitals
- Whether you need a prescription drug plan
- The quality and convenience of care
- How your coverage would be affected if you travel to another state or country
If you are unsure about what may be the best options for you, there are resources that can help guide you in your decision. We recommend you consult our trusted partner Connect One Health before making your Medicare decisions. They will help you choose the right plan for your needs. It’s a free consultation and you’re under no obligation to select a plan.
#2: Budgeting becomes more important
SSD benefits cover only a portion of what you were earning at your job, based on the work credits you’ve accumulated. Often your benefits will be less than the paychecks you have received in the past, so it becomes more important than ever to know what kind of budget you can afford to follow. Tally up your monthly expenses to see whether or not your benefits will cover them. If not, see where it is possible to trim your budget until it is manageable. If you are 65 or younger, it is also important to map out your finances so that you will have enough cash flow to support yourself when you reach retirement age and your benefits switch from Social Security Disability to Social Security. You may want to consult a financial advisor, but be aware that there is a fee associated with this service. There are also online resources such as Mint.com, a free app that lets you view all your balances and transactions in one place and will recommend a budget based on your expenditures. Resources like this can make it easier to set and stick to budget goals.
#3: Stay connected to friends, family, and community
If you’re not on a regular work schedule any more, it’s unfortunately very easy to become isolated. Lack of social activity can lead to loneliness, depression, memory problems, poor eating habits, lack of exercise, and other physical and mental health problems. Fight the impulse to sit alone in your house: just because you have been approved for SSD and are no longer working (full-time or at all) doesn’t mean you have to miss out on engaging in activities. Make time to get together with family and friends, and find out about local volunteer opportunities, educational clubs, or exercise classes. Social activities like these will go a long way toward preserving your health and well-being. Receiving SSD benefits doesn’t require you to stop doing the things to enjoy doing. While there are some limitations, it’s okay to be as active as you’re able, including participating in hobbies and traveling.
#4: You may not need to receive Social Security Disability benefits forever, but keep treating with your doctors once you’re approved
People with serious or terminal conditions, such as an autoimmune disease or cancer, may need SSD benefits for the rest of their life, but for many other people it’s not certain how long they will need it. If your health improves enough for you to return to work, you are allowed to do so. That’s why it is important to see your doctor regularly, including specialists if needed, and make sure you’re getting the right treatments for your disability. If you have trouble finding affordable health care, a website called Needymeds.org can guide you to free or low-cost clinics in your area as well as prescription drug discounts.
It is important that you continue to receive your SSD benefits while disabled, for as long as you need them. The best thing you can do to protect your health and your benefits is to keep treating with your doctors. Social Security periodically reviews disability cases to determine if continued benefits are warranted, and your medical treatment history may be examined to determine eligibility.
#5: You’re not alone
If you or a loved one ever has a SSD question and can’t find the answer, you can always reach out to us. We can also help you with non-SSD legal problems. Disability Justice has a trusted network of attorneys who are experts in many different areas of the law. We’d be happy to find someone who can assist you.