Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability
How Do I File For Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?
When you’re facing a disability that keeps you from working, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program may be able to provide you with financial assistance. However, the SSDI application process can be challenging to navigate, especially if you’re not familiar with the system. That’s where an attorney can help.
Using an attorney to apply for SSDI can be helpful, as they can help ensure your application is complete and accurate. They can also help you navigate the appeals process, if necessary, which can be complex and intimidating. There are no upfront out-of-pocket costs paid by a claimant, so there is no risk of retaining an experienced law firm. All claims are contingency cases; that is, if you don’t win, we don’t win. If you do win, payment comes from your “back pay”, and is paid directly by the Social Security Administration. There is no money paid out of your pocket.
Ultimately, having an attorney by your side can increase your chances of a successful SSDI application and reduce your stress associated with the process.
Here are some tips for retaining an attorney:
First, it’s important to find an attorney who specializes in Social Security Disability cases. They can guide you through the process and represent you if your application is denied and you need to appeal. Disability Law Office NW focuses exclusively on helping clients with their SSDI and SSI (Supplemental Security Income – a separate program for people who don’t have enough work credits for SSDI or whose income falls below minimum thresholds) applications. We offer a free initial consultation. This allows you to see if we’re a good fit for you and us to advise you frankly on whether you have a valid claim.
Secondly, (if you choose us to represent you), once you’ve chosen us as your attorney, we will work with you to gather the necessary medical and work history documents needed for your application. We will also help you fill out the application and submit it to the Social Security Administration (SSA). You will be asked the same questions repeatedly throughout your application process. Your attorney understands the intent behind the questions being asked and can ensure that the best and most consistent responses are given.
Thirdly, (keep in mind) almost all disability applications are denied at least once. If your application is denied, Disability Law Office NW can help you appeal the decision. This usually results in a hearing in front of an administrative law judge.
Throughout the process, your attorney will keep you informed about the progress of your case and answer any questions you may have. They can also help you prepare for any hearings or other meetings with the SSA.
How Are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) And Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits Calculated?
Social Security uses a complicated formula based on how much a claimant has paid into the system via taxes. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will determine your payment based on your lifetime average earnings before you became disabled. Your benefit amount will be calculated using your covered earnings. These are your earnings at jobs where your employer took money out of your wages for Social Security or FICA.
In addition to your covered earnings, the SSA also considers other factors when determining an individual’s SSDI benefits. For example, the age at which an individual becomes disabled and the number of years that they have worked can both affect the amount of benefits that they receive.
When applying for SSDI, it helps to known that its goal is to provide individuals who are unable to work due to a disability with financial support that helps them maintain a basic standard of living. It is not intended as full income replacement for a previous job. If a person meets the criteria for both SSDI and SSI (a separate program for people who don’t have enough work credits for SSDI or whose income with SSDI falls below minimum thresholds), Disability Law Office will assist in filing both applications.
Do I Have To File Taxes On SSDI (Social Security Disability Income)?
If SSDI is your only source of income, you probably won’t need to file taxes. However, if you have other sources of income or receive SSDI and also have income from work, you may need to file a tax return.
Tax Tip: For the tax year 2022, if you’re a single filer, you may need to include up to 50% of your SSID benefits in your taxable income inf your income falls between $25,000 and $34,000 (or between $32,000 and $44,000 if Married Filing Jointly). The threshold varies depending on your filing status, age, and other factors, so it’s best to consult with a tax professional or use tax software to determine your specific requirements.
How Many Credits Do I Need For Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?
Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years leading up to your disability. The exact number of credits needed depends on your age when you became disabled. Younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.
Credits are based on the amount of income you earned and the amount of Social Security taxes you paid into the system.
Although your earning credits are a key factor in determining your eligibility for benefits, it’s not the only factor. The SSA also considers the severity of your disability and whether it prevents you from currently engaging in substantial gainful (paid) activity. This doesn’t mean being able to do the same type of work as before you became disabled or even being able to earn the same amount of money.
Your ability to manage your own self-care – known as Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) will also be reviewed as part of your application. ADLs include eating, dressing, transferring in and out of bed or chair, bathing, toileting, taking medications, preparing meals, managing money, shopping, doing housework and using a telephone.
There is also a Compassionate Allowances program that can result in immediate qualification for eligible individuals. The Compassion Allowances program identifies claims where the applicant’s disease or condition clearly meet the SSA’s statutory standard for disability. This often involves cases of terminal illness. Compassionate Allowance beneficiaries who have been recently diagnosed are still subject to the SSDI waiting period – five months from the date of disability onset – prior to receiving benefits.
What Are The SSDI Income Limits In 2023?
Amounts For 2023
The monthly allowed SGA (Substantial Gainful Activity) for statutorily blind individuals for 2023 is $2460. For non-blind individuals, the monthly SGA amount for 2023 is $1470. The SGA limit is the amount of income a person can earn before they are considered able to engage in substantial gainful activity and no longer eligible for SSDI.
It’s important to note that the SGA limit is not the only factor used to determine SSDI eligibility. The program also considers the severity of the individual’s disability and their ability to engage in gainful activity, as well as their work history and other factors.
If an individual earns more than the SGA limit, their SSDI benefits may be reduced or stopped altogether. However, there are certain programs and incentives available to encourage beneficiaries to work and earn income without losing their SSDI benefits. These programs include the Ticket to Work program, which provides vocational rehabilitation and job training services to SSDI beneficiaries, and the Trial Work Period, which allows beneficiaries to test their ability to work without losing their benefits.
How Much Can I Make On Disability In 2023?
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- The maximum payment is $914 monthly for individuals and $1,371 monthly for couples.
SSI is designed to provided payments to disabled children and adults and individuals aged 65 or older who are citizens or legal aliens of the United States. The amount you receive will be based on your income and resources and is not based on your work history.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
- The maximum payment is $3,627 a month, which equals $43,524 per year.
- The maximum payment of $3,627 monthly is based on full retirement age of 67. However, if you retire at age 62, your benefit is $2,572. If you retire at age 70, your benefit increases to $4,555.
- The maximum family benefit for SSDI is about 150% to 180% of the disabled worker’s benefit.
If you are approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), the amount you receive will be based on your average lifetime earnings before you became disabled and is not based on your financial situation. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a complex formula to calculate your SSDI benefit amount, but in general, you can expect to receive around 40% of your pre-disability income.
For example, if you earned an average of $50,000 per year before becoming disabled, you might receive around $20,000 per year in SSDI benefits.
Amounts for both SSI and SSDI may change from year to year based on cost-of-living adjustments and other factors. Under certain circumstances, a person may qualify for both SSI and SSDI benefits. Social Security calls this concurrent benefits. Although disability benefits are federal and are determined in federal court, some states may provide additional disability benefits or offer other types financial assistance.
To fully understand what benefits you’re eligible for, it’s best to consult with an attorney who specializes in SSI and SSDI benefits. Disability Law Office NW can guide you through the application process regardless of what state you reside in and can offer you a complimentary consultation to discuss whether you qualify for benefits. If you qualify for both SSI and SSDI, we will help you through the application process for both.
What Is The Difference Between SSI And SSDI?
Both SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and SSDI (Social Security Disability Income) are federal programs that provide financial assistance for people with disabilities. The major difference is that SSI determination is based on age, disability and limited financial resources, whereas SSDI determination is based on solely on work credits. Many individuals are eligible for benefits under both the SSI and SSDI at the same time. The Social Security Administration uses the term “concurrent” when individuals are eligible for benefits under both programs.
Though people often qualify for both programs, there are still substantial differences between the two in terms of eligibility, funding, and the amount of benefits provided.
SSI is a needs-based program designed for people who are elderly, blind or disabled. Eligibility is based on having limited financial resources and being a US citizen or qualified alien. Work credits are not considered part of eligibility. SSI benefits are funded by general tax revenues, and the monthly benefit amount is based on the federal benefit rate, which is adjusted annually for inflation.
SSDI is an insurance program funded by Social Security payroll taxes. To be eligible you must have worked and paid Social Security or FICA taxes for a certain number of years and achieved the 40 credits that the Social Security Administration normally requires for eligibility (exceptions can be made for younger adults with limited work history). Your financial resources, other than current earnings (known as Substantial Gainful Activity or SGA and which are limited to $1470 a month for non-blind individuals/$2460 a month for individuals who are statutorily blind) will not affect your eligibility for SSDI. The amount of your SSDI benefit is based on your average lifetime earnings, and your spouse and children may also be eligible for benefits based on your earnings record.
SSI benefits are generally lower than SSDI benefits, and they are also subject to reduction if you receive income from other sources. In contrast, SSDI benefits are based on your earnings history and are not reduced by income other than SGA limitations. Because of the differences between the programs, it’s advisable to consult an attorney who specializes in SSI and SSDI benefits, so that you understand what you’re eligible for and can receive help throughout the complex application and/or appeals process. Disability Law Office NW provides a complimentary consultation regardless of where you’re at in the application process. There are no upfront, out-of-pocket costs paid by a claimant, so there is no risk of retaining an experienced law firm. All claims are contingency cases; that is, if you don’t win, we don’t win. If you do win, payment comes from your “back pay”, and is paid directly by Social Security Administration. There is no money paid out of your pocket.
Ultimately, having an attorney by your side can increase your chances of a successful SSDI application and reduce the stress associated with the process.
How Much Social Security Disability (SSDI) Will I Get?
Calculating the exact amount of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits you will receive can be a complicated process. But the factors below can give you a rough estimate of the amount you can expect to receive.
|Eligibility based on work||Age (65+) OR blindness (any age) OR disability (any age) AND limited/no income and resources||Disability AND sufficient credits through own/family employment|
|When benefits begin||1st full month after date the claim was filed or, if later, the date found to be eligible for SSI||6th full month of disability; 6-month period begins with the first full month after the date SSA decides the disability began|
|Average benefit (monthly||$622 (as of December 2022)||$1,688 (as of December 2022)|
|Maximum benefit monthly||$914/$1371 (single/married couple in 2023 (based on income)||$3,636 in 2023 (based on work history)|
Other factors will impact your benefits as well. Your SSDI benefits will be affected by your lifetime earnings. SSDI benefits are based on your work history and the amount of Social Security taxes you paid during your working years. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will use your lifetime average earnings to determine your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA), which is the amount you will receive in monthly benefits.
The second factor determining your SSDO amount is the age when you begin receiving benefits. If you start receiving benefits before your full retirement age, your benefits will be reduced. If you wait until after your full retirement age to begin receiving benefits, the amount will be increased.
For SSI, the amount you receive will be based on your income and other financial resources and is not based on your work history.
I Am A Disabled Veteran. Can I Get Both SSDI And Veteran’s Benefits?
If you are a disabled veteran who served in any branch of the military, you may be eligible for up to $2,700 a month in benefits through the SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) program. This is in addition to your benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). These dual benefits can be a crucial step towards increasing income stability for disabled veterans and their families. However, it is important to note that these two programs are separate, and eligibility requirements may differ.
To qualify for SSDI, an individual must have a disability that prevents them from working and earning a substantial income. The disability must be expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death. In addition, the individual must have earned enough work credits through paying Social Security taxes to be eligible for SSDI. Veterans may also be eligible for additional benefits through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program which is based on age, disability and financial resources, but doesn’t consider work credits as part of its eligibility.
In contrast, the VA offers disability benefits to veterans based on the severity of their service-connected disabilities. These benefits are not affected by any other sources of income or other disability benefits, including SSDI and SSI. Therefore, a veteran can receive both VA disability benefits and SSA (Social Security Administration) benefits. An entitled veteran can even receive a combination of VA, SSDI and SSI benefits.
The SSA has two initiatives – the 100% Permanent and Total Veterans Initiative and the Wounded Warriors program – that provide expedited SSDI/SSI application processing for entitled veterans.
It is important to note that while the VA and Social Security Administration (SSA) have similar disability criteria, they use different evaluation processes. A veteran may be approved for VA disability benefits but still be denied SSDI, or vice versa. Consulting with an attorney who specializes in SSDI and SSI benefits can increase your chances of a successful application and reduce the stress associated with the process.
Can Disabled Widows And Widowers Obtain Benefits?
The grief of losing a spouse is often heightened by all the other things confronting the surviving partner including the needs of underage children, decisions of where to live, dealing with an extended absence from work and loss of a second income. Time can be a critical factor not only for healing, but for having the freedom to make plans based on thought rather than urgency.
Disabled widows and widowers may be eligible to receive benefits based on their deceased spouse’s earnings under certain circumstances. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers two types of benefits for disabled widows and widowers: disability benefits and survivor benefits.
As a disabled widow(er), you may qualify for disability benefits if you meet the following conditions:
- You are between the ages of 50 and 60.
- You meet the definition of disability for adults.
- Your disability started before or within seven years of your spouse’s death. (If you are a widow(er) who is caring for the deceased worker’s minor child/children and receiving Social Security benefits on their behalf, the seven-year period does not commence until those payments end.)
- You must have been married to your deceased spouse for at least nine months prior to their passing.
To be eligible for Survivor benefits, you don’t need to be disabled yourself, but do need to meet the following conditions:
- You are aged 60.
- Benefits can begin at any age if you are caring for your deceased spouse’s dependent children.
- You must have been married to your deceased spouse for at least nine months prior to their passing.
- Spousal benefits are capped at 50% of the deceased worker’s benefits, but survivor benefits are set for up to 100% of the worker’s benefit. If you have worked in the past, you are more likely to be granted a greater payout.
Though disabled widow(er) may be eligible to receive benefits based on their deceased spouse’s earnings through disability benefits or survivor benefits, the eligibility requirements and amount of benefits received will depend on the individual circumstances and the deceased spouse’s earnings history.
Working with an attorney who specializes in disability benefits can be a great help as they will understand the benefits that you will be eligible for but can also advise you on any things that you can do in filing to maximize your payout (?). Disability Law Office NW can guide you through the application process regardless of what state you reside in and can offer you a complimentary consultation to discuss whether you qualify for benefits.
What Are The Benefits Of Using An Attorney To File For SSDI?
- An experienced SSDI attorney can help ensure your application is complete and accurate. They will have a thorough understanding of the SSDI process and requirements, including the medical evidence required, deadlines, and potential pitfalls. They will also make sure all necessary paperwork is submitted accurately and on time.
- You will be asked the same questions repeatedly throughout the process. An attorney will understand the implications behind many of the questions and can ensure that your answers are consistent through the process and the facts of your case are presented in a manner that best highlights your need for assistance.
- They can also help you navigate the appeals process, if necessary, which can be complex and intimidating. Nineteen percent? of all SSDI applicants will give up after their first denial because it can be both emotionally and physically exhausting.
- There are no upfront out-of-pocket costs paid by a claimant, so there is no risk of retaining an experienced law firm. All claims are contingency cases; that is, if you don’t win, we don’t win. If you do win, payment comes from you “back pay”, and is paid directly by the Social Security Administration. There is no money paid out of your pocket.
- Access to medical experts: An attorney can help you obtain the medical evidence needed to support your claim, including opinions from medical experts. They can also help you navigate the medical examination process and make sure you receive the necessary evaluations and treatments.
- Reduced stress and anxiety: Applying for SSDI can be a stressful and overwhelming process. By using an attorney, you can take some of the burden off yourself and let them handle the paperwork and communication with the Social Security Administration (SSA).
But one of the best reasons for using an attorney to file for SSDI is:
- Improved chances of approval: Studies have shown that individuals who use an attorney when applying for SSDI have a higher chance of approval than those who do not. This is because attorneys know how to present your case in the most favorable light, making sure all necessary evidence is submitted to support your claim.
Ultimately, having an attorney by your side can increase your chances of a successful SSDI application and reduce your stress associated with the process.
What Disqualifies A Person From Disability?
A primary reason for disqualification is not having a qualifying disability. To be considered disabled under SSDI, an individual must have a medical condition that meets the program’s definition of disability. The condition must be severe enough to prevent the individual from working and be expected to last at least 12 months or result in death. If an individual’s medical condition does not meet these requirements, they may not be eligible for SSDI benefits.
Another disqualifier is if you are still able to engage in what the Social Security Administration (SSA) calls Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). This usually means being able to work full-time. To qualify for disability benefits, a person must not be able to engage in SGA that results in earnings above a certain amount. If you can make more than the SGA, then you will not qualify. For 2022 the threshold is $1,470 per month. For an applicant who is statutorily blind the amount is $2,460.
Another reason for disqualification is you may not have worked long enough and recently enough to earn sufficient work credits. The number of credits required depends on the individual’s age at the time of their disability. If an individual has not earned enough work credits or has not worked recently enough, they may not be eligible for SSDI benefits.
Individuals may also have problems with the lengthy and complex application process. Working with an attorney who specializes in disability benefits can be a great help as they will understand the benefits that you will be eligible for but can also advise you on any things that you can do in filing to maximize your payout (?). Disability Law Office NW can guide you through the application process regardless of what state you reside in and can offer you a complimentary consultation to discuss whether you qualify for benefits.
How Does A Remote (Virtual) Hearing Affect My Chances Of Receiving SSDI?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is now holding Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) hearings by phone and video in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This change has significant implications for those filing claims for disability benefits.
Traditionally, SSDI hearings were conducted in person, with the claimant, their representative, and the administrative law judge (ALJ) all present in a hearing room. However, with the pandemic disrupting normal operations, the SSA has had to adapt to a new way of conducting hearings.
Now, claimants have the option of attending their hearing by phone or video conference. This change has several benefits for claimants, including:
- Increased accessibility: Many claimants have difficulty traveling to an in-person hearing due to their disability or lack of transportation. Holding hearings by phone or video conference allows these individuals to participate in the process without the added burden of traveling to a hearing location.
- Increased efficiency: Holding hearings by phone or video conference can streamline the hearing process, allowing for more hearings to be held each day. This can help reduce the backlog of cases waiting for a hearing and can potentially shorten the overall wait time for a decision.
- Increased safety: With the ongoing pandemic, holding hearings by phone or video conference reduces the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for all parties involved.
However, there are also potential drawbacks to holding hearings remotely. For example, it may be more difficult for claimants to effectively communicate their disability and limitations without being able to physically demonstrate them in person. Additionally, technical difficulties with phone or video conferencing technology could potentially disrupt or delay the hearing process.
Overall, the shift to holding SSDI hearings by phone and video has both benefits and drawbacks for claimants. It remains to be seen whether these changes will become permanent or if the SSA will eventually return to holding hearings in person once the pandemic subsides.
Having an experienced attorney who is familiar with remote hearings will help lower a claimant’s anxiety and increase the possibility of a favorable outcome.
At Disability Law Office NW, we have been doing remote hearings for over two years now and are experienced in ensuring that our clients have ways of presenting their case virtually.