Social Security

Roy J. Portenga, Attorney at Law services the social security needs of all clients in the Western Michigan area. 

Disability Benefits

Social Security provides a disability benefit to eligible workers under age 66 who are unable to  work due to a disability. A qualifying disability must be expected to last at least one year or result in death. Conditions considered to be  disabling can include heart disease, blindness, severe arthritis, mental illness, and cancer.

Dependents’ Benefits

If you are retired or disabled, Social Security also pays dependents’ benefits to your children under age 18 and to your spouse age 62 or older. The payments are also extended to your unmarried children if they are disabled and their disability started before age 22. Disability benefits are also available to spouses under age 62 if they are caring for your child under age 16. Further, your divorced spouse, age 62 or older, is entitled to a dependent benefit if the marriage lasted 10 years.

Survivors’ Benefits

Spouses, children, and sometimes parents qualify for survivors’ benefits when you die. For example, your surviving spouse is entitled to 100% of the benefit you would have received. However, your spouse cannot collect both a survivor’s benefit and his or her own benefit. If your spouse has a higher benefit based on personal work and income history, your spouse should apply for benefits in his or her own name. Your parents may also be entitled to survivor benefits if they were dependent on you for at least half of the cost of their support. Your children, too, may be entitled to survivors’ benefits until age 18 (or longer if still in high school).

Qualifying For Social Security Benefits

To qualify for Social Security retirement benefits, you must have earned the required number of work credits for the type of benefit you seek. The Social Security Administration keeps track of your credits. For each year you work, you receive up to four Social Security credits depending upon the amount of your salary.

When To Apply For Social Security Benefits

You should apply for your retirement benefits about three months before you want them to begin. You should apply for disability or survivor benefits as soon as you become eligible.

Where To Apply For Social Security Benefits

You can apply for Social Security benefits by visiting your local Social Security office. Representatives of the Social Security Administration will help you complete your application. You can also apply online at www.socialsecurity.gov . 

What You Will Need To Apply For Benefits

When applying for benefits, you will need your Social Security number, proof of your age (such as a birth certificate), two of your most recent W-2 forms, proof of U.S. citizenship if you weren’t born in the United States, names/addresses/phone numbers of your doctors and the names/quantities of any medications you are taking. Certain benefits may require other documents, such as proof of military service, your marriage certificate or your spouse’s death certificate.

Appealing A Denial Of Benefits

You have a right to appeal if you believe you were improperly denied Medicare or Social Security, or that your benefits were improperly stopped or inaccurately calculated. For Social Security claims, you must request an appeal, in writing, within 60 days from the date you receive a notice of decision from the Social Security Administration. If you do not appeal, the decision becomes final and you cannot appeal at a later date. The three levels in the appeal process are a Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, Consideration by the Social Security Administration’s Appeals Council in Washington, D.C., and Federal Court Review.

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