As the caregiver to a friend or family member with a serious illness, you can apply for Social Security disability benefits on his or her behalf. Benefits may be available through one or both of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) disability programs. Once approved, your family member or friend will receive any back benefits due as well as ongoing, monthly disability payments to help cover everyday living expenses, medical bills, and other costs.
As their caregiver, you can help your loved one apply for Social Security disability benefits. There are two different types of disability benefits programs that you can help your loved one apply for. These programs may help pay for caregiver costs.
SSI and SSDI Benefits
Disability includes Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). If the person for whom you’re applying was previously employed, paid Social Security taxes, and had a recent work history (within the last 10 years), then he or she will likely qualify for SSDI. This is where many people with progressive or adult-onset illnesses will qualify, such as those with Parkinson's disease or early-onset ALS.
SSI benefits may be available to your friend or family member, based on his or her financial situation, living circumstances, and other factors. SSI is need-based and requires a review of financial details in addition to personal information and medical records.
Some applicants qualify for benefits through just one program. Those in the most dire financial circumstances may receive benefits through SSI in addition to SSDI. Applicants who have no employment records or no recent work history may get SSI instead of SSDI benefits.
As the caregiver of a seriously ill adult, you may need to apply for both programs and discuss eligibility considerations with an SSA representative.
Medical Eligibility for Benefits
Every application is reviewed against listings that appear in the SSA’s Blue Book. Listed disabilities include a range of serious illnesses. Some disabilities listed in the Blue Book include:
For example, Parkinson's disease will medically qualify if the person you're caring for cannot walk without assistance, or perform dexterous movements due to tremors in two or more limbs. Those with ALS will automatically medically qualify.
You’ll want to discuss the application with the individual for whom you’re applying as well as his or her doctor. Together, you’ll get an idea of the listing under which your friend or family member may qualify. This in turn will help you know if existing medical records are sufficient evidence or if additional documentation must be collected.
Although you can complete SSI and SSDI applications on someone else’s behalf, he or she will still be required to sign certain documents, unless you are a legal guardian or hold power of attorney for this person. The applications themselves must be signed in addition to consent forms, giving the SSA permission to contact doctors and other healthcare providers and to request medical records and other documentation.
If the person you care for cannot hold a pen, it is perfectly acceptable to hold a pen in a mouth to sign a paper. If there is no possible way for the person you care for to sign documents, exceptions can be made and you may be able to sign the final application on his or her behalf.
How Much Does Social Security Pay a Caregiver?
If you are taking care of a loved one with a serious ailment or a disability it can be not only time and emotionally consuming, but it can also be finally draining as well.
If your loved one is approved for disability benefits you may be wondering how much Social Security pays a caregiver, unfortunately the SSA does not pay caregivers directly in order to take care of a loved one.
If you are the primary caregiver of someone who is on Social Security disability benefits however, you can use that money in order to help you take care of your loved one.
You can use the funds from Social Security disability benefits to help cover the costs related to taking care of your loved one. That can include, but certainly not limited to gas to help pay for driving your loved one, medical bills, prescription medication and basic day to day needs, like groceries.
You can also use those funds from Social Security to pay for help to take care of your loved one. There are many home healthcare organizations whom you could turn to for help taking care of your loved one, which you can pay for using the funds from Social Security.
If you have any questions on what you can spend your loved one’s Social Security benefits on, you can contact the SSA.
How to Get Paid to Take Care of a Family Member with a Disability
If you have a loved one applying for disability benefits, even though you cannot get paid directly from the SSA, you can get paid as a caregiver to take care for a loved one with a disability.
There are many government programs that allow family members of people with disabilities to get paid for caring for them.
One program is called Medicaid Self-Directed Care. Medicaid Self-Directed Care is a program that lets qualified people manage their own health services. The program also lets them hire family members as caregivers in some states.
There are 12 states that pay family caregivers. Those states are Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
If you live in one of those states, you should check to see how to get paid by the state for taking care of someone. Those states pay any relatives, including spouses, parents of minor children, and other legally responsible relatives to take care of a family member with a disability.
Collecting Required Records and Other Information
You’ll need to gather as many details as possible before applying for benefits, and the Disability Checklist, which is part of the Adult Disability Starter Kit, will help you know the types of records and information you’ll need. If you apply online for SSDI, then the online application checklist will help you as well. Necessary documents include past employers, tax history, and current financial statements.
Applying for Social Security Benefits
SSDI application is available through the SSA’s website. You can use the online application to begin your SSI claim too.
If your loved one cannot apply on their own, you can fill out their application for them. The easiest way to apply is online through the SSA’s website.
All applications can be submitted online now. Make sure you have all of your loved one’s paperwork and medical records in order before you apply.
After you submit the initial application, it will usually take the SSA between 3 and 5 months in order to get back to you with a decision. Call the SSA toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 to schedule an appointment or to discuss interview options.
If you are a caregiver and applying on behalf of a loved one with an illness, get a free case evaluation today.