Social Security/Disability: How Can This Be?

Okay…so we’re sitting around with a friend talking about how SSI won’t be enough to live on, and what you get if you retire at 62, 66.33, or 70 years, or if you go on disability. Our friend said he’d get more if he went on disability. I said “nofuckinway” and so did Mr. K. So I whip out my little green sheet and show him the stats.

He goes home and whips out his little green sheet and, indeed, he has a higher figure on disability than he does on all regular retirement types. He is 3 years younger than me (I’m 50) and MUCH younger than Mr. K.

How come the disparity in benefits?

If it makes any difference, he makes quite a bit more than we do.

I believe that people who collect social security disability get a payment for each kid under 18. If he’s got kids under 18 now who will be over 18 when he’s 62, that would account for the difference

Nope. She’s 19 and not a student. But maybe they THINK she’s a student and therefore they’d give him a higher allotment? Maybe…

Nope, that’s not it. I found my paper, and the disability estimate doesn’t include the family benefits. I’m 42, and my disability payment is more than I would get at 62, but
less than I’ll get at my full retirement age of 67 or at 70.

Same here. But I’m curious. What has to be wrong with a person before they can get disability?

It makes total sense to me. SSI was ment to be a suppliment to retirement income, that is a little extra for those who worked their whole adult life, and, forgoing luxury cars and SUV’s, flat screen TV’s, cable/sat TV and other non-essentials have ample time to sock away long term investments, IRA’s 401K’s SEP’s, not to mention the real estate they own, SSI was just a bit of a bonus, perahaps to help offset the increase of property tax.

But the disability part means someone was struc down BEFORE they had the opportunity to save for retirement, and really need the extra bucks to survive.

My mom used to prepare SSI Disability applications. To qualify, you pretty much have to be incapable of performing substantive work of any kind - the reason can be a single issue, or a combination of issues. It also depends on the applicant’s level of educaiton and type of skills; an illiterate person who can no longer perform manual labor is more likely to qualify than someone with a college degree and a similar level of physical impairment, because the educated person is more likely to be able to perform non-manual work.

Ironically, Mom used to see a lot of applicants who had basically fried all their internal organs through years of hardcore substance abuse, and qualified for that reason. My understanding is that it’s now much more difficult to qualify if the reason you are disabled is through illegal activity, but I’m not up on the details.

Nitpick: “SSI” is not what is being discussed here. SSI is a completely different program from SS disability.
The SSI program makes payments to people with low income who
are age 65 or older or are blind or have a disability.

                     The Social Security Administration manages the SSI program. Even
                     though Social Security manages the program, SSI is not paid for by
                     Social Security taxes. SSI is paid for by U.S. Treasury general
                     funds, not the Social Security trust funds.

If you guys really have any questions - this is essentially my job that I’ve been doing the past 20 years.
But I’m not gonna answer them at home - too much like work.

My SIL got it for alcoholism and the related health problems.

I do. But my main question is how come they change the numbers, and get the information wrong, every time I get a green sheet? They had me with no income for a year (untrue) and my current one has me at about 1/3 of my income in a fairly recent year. Also UNTRUE. They are riddled with mistakes each time I get one. It makes me think the projected amounts are also WRONG. I hate these fuckers. No offense, Dins… :wink:

No question SSA makes a ton of mistakes.
However, I suggest that when you consider the immensity of the program - over 50 million payments a month - you might be surprised at how few mistakes they really make.
I believe one of the reasons they started mailing those statements was so that folks could spot errors such as you describe, and get them corrected timely.
Don’t get me wrong - if they screw up your case it can be a real pain in the ass.
But compared to the millions of cases that get processed without a blip, and the relatively tiny administrative costs (WAG from memory ~ 6%), on balance they do a pretty good job.

I agree, the percentage of screw-ups (permanently FUCKED screw-ups) is probably pretty low. But here’s the thing. I call them to point out a mistake, and the mistake is from like 15 years ago. They tell me I have to come up with the documentation and they give me all kinds of grief, and then 6 months or a year later (after I haven’t found the documentation and figure I have to eat it) they plug in a number. Then another year is off.

THEY HAVE THE PAPERWORK! Why do I have to look it up? Why can’t they look up blatant inconsistencies (or compare with the last one…the numbers magically change).

I have decided to save all my tax returns for the rest of eternity since I can see they are challenged by it. But the old stuff. I’m fucked on those. How can I prove anything?