Money: Social Security Connection

| June 2009


I’ve been working full-time with chronic pain caused from an automobile accident nearly 15 years ago. It’s to the point now that I don’t think I can do it much longer.

How do I apply for Social Security disability benefits? Someone told me I had to quit my job before I could apply. Is that true? I’m not married and have no other source of income, so if that’s the case, how am I supposed to live? – C.R., Kansas


You can apply for disability benefits online or by calling the Social Security office.

You do not have to quit your job to apply. However, if you are working and your earnings average more than a certain amount each month, Social Security will generally not consider you disabled.



Is there a time limit on how long a person can draw Social Security disability benefits? I’m 52 and just started drawing benefits. When I turn 65, will I be able to switch over to my regular retirement benefits and draw a higher amount than I’m drawing now? – C.R., Missouri


When you reach full retirement age, your benefits will automatically convert from disability to retirement benefits. However, your benefit amount will not change. The amount of disability a person receives is the same amount he or she would have been eligible for at full retirement age had he or she not become disabled.



My mother is unable to handle her financial affairs, so I have power of attorney. Does Social Security recognize power of attorney? She will begin drawing benefits soon, and I’m wondering if her check can be sent to me. – S.T., Illinois


Social Security does not recognize power of attorney. Instead, you must file an application to serve as a representative payee, which is simply an individual – or an organization in some cases – who receives Social Security and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for someone who cannot manage or direct the management of his or her own money.



My daughter just found out she’s expecting her third child. With her other children, she was on bed rest for most of her pregnancy and was off work for six months following their births. Her doctor told her to expect the same thing with this baby. Does Social Security offer short-term disability benefits for situations like my daughter’s? If so, how does she apply? – H.M., Florida


Social Security does not offer short-term disability.



My son-in-law recently passed away. Can my daughter and grandchildren draw Social Security survivor benefits? – D.M., Texas


When a person who has worked and paid Social Security taxes dies, certain family members may be eligible for survivors benefits. Up to 10 years of work is needed to be eligible for benefits, depending on the person’s age at the time of death.

Survivors benefits can be paid to:

• A widow/widower – full benefits at full retirement age or reduced benefits as early as age 60.

• A disabled widow/widower – as early as age 50.

• A widow/widower at any age if he or she takes care of the deceased’s child who is under age 16 or is disabled and receiving Social Security benefits.

• Unmarried children under 18, or up to 19 if they are attending high school full time. Stepchildren, grandchildren and adopted children in some cases.

• Children at any age who were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled.

• Dependent parents age 62 or older.


Social Security Connection  

To contact the Social Security office, call, toll-free, 1 (800) 772-1213, or visit the Web site at .



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