Montana Social Security Benefits: All Your Questions Answered

Montana social security benefits

Social Security can be confusing for anyone, so here’s what retirees individuals with a disability need to know

If you’re retired or disabled, you probably need your Social Security to stay afloat. And, the process is different depending on whether you’re retirement age or need to qualify based on a work-related injury or disability. Learn what you can expect, when to file, and how long the process might last.

Most of us won't be able to work every day of our lives. Some will retire at 66 years and 2 months old (or at age 67 for those born in 1960 or later). Some will choose to work longer, but others might have to leave the workforce because of a debilitating workplace accident that prevents them from remaining employed.

Did you know? When it comes to retirement benefits, the average Social Security retirement benefit in Montana is $1,331.30 and there are 165,558 retirees receiving benefits.

Let's talk about the types of Social Security retirement and disability benefits available in Montana.

Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI)

This is the official name for Social Security. This federal program provides benefits to retirees, individuals with disabilities, and their survivors. This is funded by workers, themselves, in the form of payroll deductions that appear as Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes. If you become disabled before you reach retirement age, you might be able to receive your OASDI benefits sooner.

To receive OASDI for retirement benefits, you must be 62 years old for partial benefits, or between 65 and 67 for full benefits. If you were born before 1950, you can receive full benefits at age 65. If you were born between 1950 and 1960, you become eligible for full benefits at age 66, and those born after 1960 become eligible for full benefits at age 67.

Usually, a non-working spouse is entitled to half of the working spouse's benefits. To receive OASDI benefits before retirement age, you must be completely disabled and unable to work.

In 2017, Montana provided OASDI benefits to nearly 62 million people. Nearly 75 percent of OASDI beneficiaries were age 65 or older. Take a look:

Total beneficiaries Retirees Disabled workers Surviving spouses and parents Spouses Children
61,903,360 42,446,992 8,695,475 4,090,523 2,501,729 4,168,641
Source: U.S. Social Security Office of Retirement and Disability Policy

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

SSDI provides financial assistance to people who are unable to work because of a long-term disability. This benefits people who've worked for most of their lives and paid into the Social Security system for at least 5 of the past 10 years prior to an injury. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is similar to SSDI, but only for people who are disabled and don't have a consistent work history.

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), a disability is an injury or disease that prevents you from returning to your former work or adjusting to new work, and it lasts at least one year. This debilitating injury or illness also prevents you from earning at least $1,000 per month and is severe enough that you're not able to perform basic work-related tasks.

There's a lengthy list of conditions that qualify you for Social Security disability benefits, but you could also qualify based on a condition that's not included on the list if you're able to show that it's severe enough to meet the SSA criteria.

In Montana, 18,276 people received social security income (SSI) in 2016. Approximately 7% of them were aged and 93% were blind or disabled. Tweet this
Enjuris tip: If you or a family member receives SSI and live in a group home, you can receive an additional payment from the state of Montana. For a beneficiary in assisted living, the amount is $94 per month. If the beneficiary resides in an adult foster home, the amount is $52.75 per month. A beneficiary in a transitional home for people with developmental disabilities is $26 in addition to the federal SSI amount of $750.

Here’s how SSI recipients are grouped by age:

Social Security Income Beneficiaries
Age group Percentage of whole
Under 18 years old 13%
18-64 years old 69%
65+ years old 18%
Source: U.S. Social Security Office of Retirement and Disability Policy

Clearly, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) isn't just for older adults since the largest category of recipients is between 18 and 64 years old.

Evaluating your Social Security Disability claim

The Montana Disability Determination Services (DDS) handles medical eligibility for Social Security Disability claims. Although determinations regarding eligibility and benefits are based on federal rules, Montana has its own department for managing SSI for its local residents.

If you live in Montana and are disabled, you can apply for SSDI or you can apply for SSI if you have low income and assets. Montana doesn't offer short-term disability benefits unless your illness or injury prevents you from working for 1 year or more.

What to do if you've been permanently injured in a workplace accident

If you've suffered an injury that's left you with a disability, contact your local Social Security office to file a claim or file online.

The benefits process can be lengthy. Here's how it works:

Step 1

Contact your local Social Security office to file an application for disability benefits.

Step 2

Social Security will forward your application to the Montana DDS office.

Step 3

A DDS claims examiner will review your medical records to determine whether you qualify for social security benefits.

Step 4

Your claim is either approved or denied.

What if your claim is denied?

Step 5

Ask for a reconsideration.

Step 6

If your reconsideration is denied, you must request a hearing with the Office of Adjudication and Review (ODAR).

Step 7

Hire a personal injury attorney to negotiate in the hearing.

Most of what happens from the time you file an application for benefits is bureaucratic paper-shuffling.

Did you know? More than a third of people who apply for disability benefits in Montana are denied the first time.

It can take 3 to 4 months or more for you to receive a disability decision after you submit an application. Usually, the reason why a claim is denied is because Social Security didn't have enough evidence (like complete medical records) to justify your benefits. In other words, your medical records might not contain enough proof for Social Security to determine that you have a long-term serious disability.

The second appeal

If your reconsideration still results in a denial, you can request a second appeal through an administrative hearing. This takes place with an administrative law judge (ALJ) and you might have to wait over a year for your hearing date.

This hearing is your final opportunity to be approved for benefits. It's the final stop in the appeals process, which is why it's helpful to hire an experienced Montana disability attorney to work on your behalf.

The hearing can be confusing, or even feel intimidating, especially if you're not well-versed about your medical condition or the ins and outs of the Social Security system.

Finding the right attorney for your needs

Whether you're entitled to workers' compensation, disability benefits, or if you have a personal injury lawsuit, your lawyer is going to advocate to get what you deserve. This list of Montana lawyers and other Montana legal resources is what you need to be on your way to recovery.

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