COVID-19 & Social Security Disability Questions in Michigan
When you can’t work because of serious health problems, and you need Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits to secure your financial stability, that’s enough stress on its own without the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting all of our lives.
You may be wondering what will happen to your benefits application, your appeal of a disability denial or your ongoing benefits.
The disability lawyers at the Levine Benjamin Law Firm are here with answers and support.
We’ve been helping people get through tough times in their lives—in Toledo, Traverse City and across Michigan and Ohio—since 1964.
The COVID-19 crisis is no different.
Keep reading for answers to common questions we hear about the coronavirus and Social Security Disability.
From applying to appealing, we help you every step of the way.
How Social Security Disability Works During COVID-19
Is Social Security Still Operating During the Coronavirus Crisis?
Yes. While the Social Security Administration (SSA) closed its local offices around the country when the virus started hitting, it continues to function through its website and by telephone. Disability claims are moving forward.
How will COVID-19 affect initial Social Security Disability applications?
When Social Security offices are open, you can start your application for Social Security Disability in person at your local office. When the offices are closed, as in the COVID-19 shutdowns, you need to apply on the internet. An experienced Social Security Disability lawyer can help you get all of your information submitted correctly.
How will the COVID-19 crisis affect my SSD claim when I have an appeals hearing?
The main difference during surges in the pandemic is that appeals hearings take place by phone.
In normal times, you go to a Social Security hearing office and talk to an administrative law judge (ALJ) face to face.
Phone hearings have positives and negatives. They’re convenient and keep you safe from exposure to the virus. But nothing can replace an in-person meeting for getting across to the judge why you need disability benefits.
The disability attorneys at Levine Benjamin Law Firm know our local Michigan disability judges and can guide you through your telephone hearing.
Will COVID-19 affect my Social Security Disability benefit payments?
No, the coronavirus crisis shouldn’t have any immediate effect on the timing or size of your monthly benefits. This is true whether you get your payments by direct deposit or mail.
Can I qualify for Social Security Disability benefits because I contracted COVID-19?
When a new disease appears, Social Security doesn’t immediately have rules specifically for the disease. But the bottom line of Social Security Disability remains the same: If your health problems make it impossible to work for at least a year, no matter what their cause, you can qualify for benefits.
With COVID-19 that means if you have long-term, major damage to your health after a severe infection, you could qualify for benefits.
How will COVID-19 affect my continuing disability review (CDR)?
When the coronavirus first began spreading across the United States, Social Security stopped conducting CDRs—in which they check after a period of years whether your health problems are still severe enough that you can’t work and still need benefits.
The SSA said they would not start any new continuing disability reviews during of COVID-19, and if you had one in progress, they put it on hold.
Several months into the pandemic, they began conducting the reviews again.
That means you need to be ready to defend your disability benefits and provide arguments for why you should keep receiving them.
The good news is that this process is generally much easier than applying for benefits in the first place.
Most people are able to keep their benefits.
Can I get Social Security Disability and unemployment?
In the economic recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many people who were suffering through work days with pain and other health problems found themselves unemployed and thinking about applying for disability benefits.
Getting Social Security Disability and unemployment benefits at the same time is tricky. That’s because qualifying for disability means you cannot work, but receiving unemployment means you’re saying that you’re able, ready and willing to work when you find a job.
Still, certain circumstances may allow you to get both, or to switch from unemployment to disability benefits. One example is if you worked a small amount according to Social Security’s standards. Another example is if you are over 50 and Social Security decides you are less likely to be able to adapt to a new kind of job.
Can I get COVID-19 economic stimulus checks if I receive disability benefits?
Yes. People who receive Social Security Disability benefits are eligible for COVID-19 economic impact money.
The amounts you can receive have changed in each round of economic stimulus payments approved by the federal government:
- American Rescue Plan (approved March 2021):
$1,400 per adult and $1,400 for any dependent child
- Coronavirus Relief Act (approved December 2020):
$600 per adult and $600 per child 16 or younger
- CARES Act (approved March 2020):
$1,200 per adult and $500 per child 16 or younger
The full payments have been available each time to single people earning less than $75,000 per year, heads of households earning less than $112,000 and couples earning less than $180,000.
People earning more received smaller amounts or check when their incomes reached $100,000 per individual/$198,000 per couple under the CARES Act, $87,000 per individual/$174,000 per couple under the Coronavirus Relief Act, and $80,000 per individual/$160,000 per couple under the American Rescue Plan.
Getting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits could affect the timing of when you get your check. With the third stimulus package, The American Rescue Plan, for example, news reports said disability recipients were not receiving the first checks, sent out by direct deposit, and their money would come later.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) said it would update its website with new information on stimulus payments for Social Security recipients as more details became clear.
Does Levine Benjamin Law Firm take disability cases during COVID-19?
Absolutely. In fact, when the crisis started, we never skipped a beat. We kept our clients disability claims moving.
We can help you by phone and internet.
If you have any questions about Social Security Disability or working with our law firm during COVID shutdowns, you are always welcome to contact us.
Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I have a disability?
Absolutely. In fact, if you have a disability the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages you to get vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as you can get access to the vaccine.
“It is important that people with disabilities get the COVID-19 vaccine when they are able to,” the CDC said on its website.
Having a disability on its own doesn’t necessarily make you more vulnerable to serious illness from COVID-19, the CDC said.
But circumstances around having a disability, like needing close contact with care providers, can increase your risk.
And many health conditions, like cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity, do increase your risk.
You should always follow your doctor’s advice on your specific situation. And when you get the chance, get the vaccine.
Can “long-haul COVID” qualify me for Social Security Disability benefits?
Any health problems that leave you unable to work for at least 12 months—or if they haven’t lasted that long yet, they are expected to—can qualify you for Social Security Disability.
COVID-19 is new, and we can’t say for sure how Social Security will treat it in the future.
But if you have symptoms from COVID that make it impossible to work and won’t go away, you could be eligible for benefits.