In our last post we described the story of a woman who went from working for almost 20 years to being a stay-at-home mom while her husband worked. She took care of her child and also did home-schooling. Years later, she learned that she had ALS, which has no cure and a short average survival rate.
She eventually needed a caregiver to help her with daily tasks such as grooming, eating and getting dressed. The family tried to carry the costs of this medical care independently but struggled to do so. That’s when they turned to the Social Security Disability program in order to seek benefits. The woman had to come to terms with the fact that she was disabled and needed help.
Although the woman paid into the Social Security system for almost 20 years, she was denied benefits. The reason she was denied benefits is because she was out of the workforce for more than five years. If a person does not work five of the last 10 years, the money that they paid into the system disappears and is returned to the benefits pool for others to use.
This news was completely shocking and devastating for the family. How can someone pay into the system for almost 20 years and then be denied benefits? The sad part is it can happen. To make matters worse, the woman may not qualify for SSI benefits if her husband earns too much money. She also cannot access her Social Security retirement benefits until she is 67 – an age she will likely not live to. There is some hope that the woman can appeal the denial in order to secure benefits, but the appeals process can often be stressful for someone who is already dealing with major health concerns. With the help of an attorney, it is possible that her family can get the benefits they so badly need.