Obtaining disability benefits is only half the battle for many clients.
Even after a claim has been approved, there's still the matter of paying for doctor's visits, prescriptions, and other health care needs.
Thankfully, Medicare covers those who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, although there is a catch.
With a few exceptions for some conditions such as Lou Gehrig's disease and kidney failure, individuals receiving SSDI must wait 24 months from the receipt of cash payments to begin receiving Medicare.
After this 24 month period has passed, the Social Security Administration automatically enrolls disabled individuals in Medicare.
It works like this: if you are found disabled on August 1, 2016, there is a five month waiting period for SSDI benefits, meaning your cash benefit would begin on January 1, 2017. You would then be enrolled in Medicare on January 1, 2019.
That may sound like a long time, and often times it is, but many cases that are approved take more than two years to process and require a hearing before an administrative law judge. In those cases, so long as the individual is due two years of back benefits, they are quickly enrolled in Medicare upon receiving a favorable decision from Social Security.
It's important to remember that only SSDI recipients are eligible for Medicare. This does not apply to those who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
However, many people who receive SSI are eligible for Medicaid. This varies though, as each state has its own rules for Medicaid eligibility, and those rules differ from Social Security's rules on receiving SSI benefits.
You also will not be automatically enrolled in Medicaid once you receive SSI. You have to file a separate application through your state.
Understandably, this is a lot to take in, but an experienced disability attorney can help better explain these benefits.