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8 Things You Need to Know Now About Your Social Security Disability Benefits

February 17, 2017

1.  If you are still getting disability benefits when you reach your full retirement age, your benefits will be changed automatically to retirement benefits. Generally speaking, the benefit amount usually remains the same. When you reach full retirement the Social Security Administration (SSA) will automatically convert your disability benefits to retirement benefits. Starting the month you reach retirement age, you will get benefits with no limit on your earnings.

2.  There are age limits on a child’s benefits. If you have a child who is collecting benefits on your work record, their benefits will stop with the month before your child reaches age 18.  However, if your child is enrolled in an elementary or secondary school (and remains unmarried), they can continue receiving benefits until they turn 19.

You are required to notify Social Security if your child is over 18 and drops out of school, changes from full-time to part-time attendance, is expelled or suspended, or changes schools. SSA also should be told if the student is paid by an employer for attending school. SSA sends each student a form at the beginning and end of the school year. It is important that the form be filled out and returned or benefits may be suspended.

If your child is disabled they can continue to receive benefits after age 18.  A disabled child in this circumstance would require a new claim.     

3.  Divorce ends a stepchild’s benefits. If a stepchild is receiving benefits on your earnings record and you and the child’s parent get divorced, the stepchild’s benefit will end the month following the month the divorce becomes final. You must notify SSA as soon as the divorce becomes final.

4.  Are you a new parent? Your baby may be eligible for benefits.  If you become the parent of a child after you begin receiving Social Security benefits on someone’s wage record (not SSI), and the child is in your care, be sure to notify SSA so that the child also can receive benefits.

5.  If you refuse vocational rehabilitation your benefits can be terminated. When you applied for disability benefits, information about you and your impairment may have been sent to Rehabilitation Services at the Illinois Department of Human Services or other provider of vocational rehabilitation services. If they offer you services and you refuse them without good reason, your monthly benefits may be withheld.

6.  You may owe taxes on your Social Security disability benefits. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients seldom pay income taxes, because if they have sufficient income to have to pay taxes, they don’t qualify for SSI. If you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments you may owe federal income tax, but Social Security benefits are exempt from Illinois state income tax.

7.  If you owe taxes on your SSDI benefits you’re not required to have federal taxes withheld. However, if you are not having taxes withheld you are required to make quarterly estimated tax payments. If you find it easier to have taxes withheld, request a form W-4V from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You can get this form by calling the IRS (toll-free telephone number, 1-800-829-3676) or by visiting SSA’s Internet website, www.ssa.gov. After completing and signing the form, return it to your local Social Security office by mail or in person.

8.  When you move, you must notify Social Security. Even though Social Security benefits are paid by direct deposit, Social Security must have your correct address on file. Your benefits will be stopped if SSA is unable to contact you.