The Number Of People Qualifying For Social Security Disability Benefits Has Increased
For over 60 years, Social Security disability has helped increasing numbers of workers and their families replace lost income. Several factors have contributed to this increase, which the Social Security Trustees and our actuaries have projected for decades. For example, baby boomers have reached their most disability-prone years and more women have joined the workforce in the past few decades, working consistently enough to qualify for benefits if they become disabled.
Despite the increase, the 9 million or so people getting Social Security disability benefits represent just a small subset of Americans living with disabilities.
Going Above The Income Or Asset Limits
If you’re receiving SSI and, for any reason, your income or assets rise above the limit for SSI eligibility, your benefits will stop. In 2022, the individual income limit for SSI is $841 per month, and the asset limit is $2,000. While you should be aware of these limits, determining whether you’re over the income limit can be a complex issue due to a number of factors.
Increase in income. If you begin receiving an income from any source that puts you over the income limit, your SSI benefits could stop. The SSA differentiates between “earned income” and “unearned income” The SSA counts only certain types of unearned and earned income for example, more than half of your earnings from work aren’t counted toward the SSI limit. For the details, see our article on what Social Security counts as income.
Free food or shelter. The SSA considers food and shelter that is provided by someone else as income If you begin to receive housing or food from someone else for free, the SSA will count a portion of its value as income, which in almost all cases will reduce your SSI payment. For more information, see our article on in-kind income. The SSA will not reduce your payment if someone else pays for your utilities.
Parental income. Some of a parent’s income is deemed to a child SSI recipient. See our article on family income deeming.
What Happens To My Benefits When I Reach Retirement Age If I Return To Work
If you can work before the full retirement age, there is a possibility of increasing your Social Security retirement benefits. This increase may happen if your earnings improve your Social Security monthly benefits calculations.
The Social Security Administration has a free, voluntary Ticket to Work program that helps disabled people who want to find work. Under this program, it may be possible to test your ability to work for up to nine months without reducing your SSDI benefits.
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Your Disability Attorney Is Optimistic After The Hearing
I routinely tell clients that I do not predict outcomes or give a better than 50% chance of winning. The reason: judges are predictable.
But our firm only accepts representation in claims we think have merit.
And we are familiar with the judges we try cases in front of and can usually tell if it went well or not.
We suspect other attorneys are the same.
If your disability lawyer regularly handles claims before your particular judge and has confidence you won, this is a good sign.
What Are Social Security Work Incentives / Trial Work Period
If a sudden or suddenly worsening condition led to your disability, then applying for disability benefits may have seemed your only or best option at the time. However, once youve become accustomed to your disability and have had an opportunity to explore other options, it may look like you can return to work.
With that said, many people are afraid that they may not be able to make an adequate income, so they dont attempt to do it despite wanting to work. What if they lose their benefits and cant get them back? Thats a valid fear.
For this reason, SSA has created an incentive for you to try to work after you start receiving benefits. Its called the trial work period. During this time, you may earn income and receive benefits, as you test your ability to make more income through working versus receiving benefits.
You can complete a trial work period for up to nine consecutive or non-consecutive months over a rolling 60-month timeframe before youre considered to not have a disability requiring benefits. In any of these work months, if you exceed $970 , then it counts toward the nine months in 5 years.
In other words, even though a non-blind person with a disability can earn $1350 in additional income from gainful employment and stay on disability, you shouldnt expect that youll be allowed to reach this limit every month. For all but nine months in 60 months, the actual limit is $970.
How Much Is The Disability Benefit
The disability benefit is linked through a formula to a workers earnings before he or she became disabled. The following figures show how the disability insurance benefits compare to prior earnings for a worker who became eligible for benefits in 2014 at age 55.
|Earnings Before Disability||Annual DI Benefit|
*Average indexed earnings
The average benefit paid to disabled workers in June 2017 was $1,172 a month or about $14,064 a year.
Taxes On Disability Income
In the U.S., if you work long enough, pay your taxes, and meet certain income thresholds during your career, you can participate in Social Security programs. Over time, you pay into this system and can expect to receive several benefits for you and your family.
If you work but later become disabled and have limited resources and means to earn income, the Social Security Disability Insurance program can assist. The program pays benefits to you and your children. But because your taxes fund this program, you may wonder is Social Security disability income taxable? Let’s find out.
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Adults With A Disability That Began Before Age 22
An adult who has a disability that began before age 22 may be eligible for benefits if their parent is deceased or starts receiving retirement or disability benefits. We consider this a “child’s” benefit because it is paid on a parent’s Social Security earnings record.
The Disabled Adult Child who may be an adopted child, or, in some cases, a stepchild, grandchild, or step grandchild must be unmarried, age 18 or older, have a qualified disability that started before age 22, and meet the definition of disability for adults.
It is not necessary that the DAC ever worked. Benefits are paid based on the parent’s earnings record.
- A DAC must not have substantial earnings. The amount of earnings we consider substantial increases each year. In 2022, this means working and earning more than $1,350 a month.
Can You Do Any Other Type Of Work
If you cant do the work you did in the past, we look to see if there is other work you could do despite your medical impairment.
We consider your medical conditions, age, education, past work experience, and any transferable skills you may have. If you cant do other work, well decide you qualify for disability benefits. If you can do other work, well decide that you dont have a qualifying disability and your claim will be denied.
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Substantial Gainful Activity & Disability Benefits
While receiving SSDI benefits, you may engage in substantial gainful activity but only up to a limit. For 2022, that SGA limit is $1350 for most people. Those who are statutorily blind may make $2260. For blind individuals, this SGA does not apply to supplemental security insurance SSI benefits, a different type of social security. However, for non-blind people, the SGA limit applies to both SSI and Social Security retirement . In neither case your spouses income will not impact your qualification for SSDI benefits.
This seems rather straightforward, but heres where this can get a little more complex.
The Judge Issues A Bench Decision At The Hearing
Bench decisions are fully favorable decisions read into the evidentiary record. The judge will tell you the hearing went well for you and that you can expect to receive a written decision consistent with the bench decision within a few weeks.
However, you should not worry if the judge fails to issue a bench decision. Indeed, they are rare in my experience . And some judges will not decide the claim at the hearing no matter how strong the evidence.
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Will My Disability Payment Increase If My Disability Gets Worse As I Get Older
No. Your monthly SSDI payment does not change if your condition becomes worse. The benefits are calculated based on your earnings history. The amount of disability payment is the amount you would receive if you were at full retirement age when you became disabled.
The Social Security Administration approves a disability claim based on your inability to perform work due to a disability expected to last 12 months or longer or result in death. Approval of disability status is the same as being fully disabled, even if your condition subsequently deteriorates more.
If your condition improves, you must inform the SSA, especially if you can go back to work. You must also undergo a case review about every three years for a disability that might improve and about every seven years for a permanent disability. Losing disability status means your monthly SSDI payments will stop.
Applying For Disability Benefits With A Mental Illness
Mental and psychological disabilities are among the conditions that can qualify for benefits from the Social Security Administration . You may qualify with severe depression, bipolar disorder, an anxiety disorder, or another mental illness that prevents you from maintaining gainful employment.
Social Security disability benefits can cover everyday living expenses, medical bills, and other financial obligations. Benefits are paid monthly and can alleviate many of your financial worries, making it possible for you to get by without income from employment.
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How Does Early Retirement Impact Spousal Benefits
Social Security disability payments come from the amounts projected for your full retirement age. A spousal benefit paid out based on your work history record is not automatically upgraded to the level paid at full retirement age.
If your spouse applies for the spousal benefit before the spouse reaches full retirement age, then benefits will be based on the early retirement amount , which is a permanent reduction.
Benefits For Your Spouse
Benefits are payable to your spouse:
- Age 62 or older, unless your spouse collects a higher Social Security benefit based on their earnings record. The benefit amount for your spouse is permanently reduced by a percentage, based on the number of months up to their full retirement age.
At any age if they are caring for your child under age 16 or who was disabled before age 22, and is entitled to benefits.
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The Judge Does Not Ask Many Questions Or Cuts Off Your Attorney During Direct Examination
Many judges ask the claimants attorney to make an opening statement. Then the judge takes over the questioning before giving it back to your lawyer.
The judge will ask about past work experience, medical impairments, and ongoing symptoms during the questioning.
Suppose the judge asks a few questions or cuts off your attorney during questioning by saying they have enough information. In that case, this is usually a sign that your disability hearing went well.
However, there is an exception.
Some judges rarely question the claimant. Instead, they rely on your attorney to develop the record. If such a judge hears your case, it provides no information on how the hearing went.
What Happens If Youre Denied
If your application is denied, you have 60 days to request an appeal, which you may process online through your mySocialSecurity.gov account.
There are four levels of appeal.
A reconsideration involves a new review of your disability application including any additional information you submit.
If you disagree with the decision after reconsideration, you may request a hearing by an administrative law judge.
If you disagree with the administrative law judges decision, you may ask for a review by Social Securitys Appeals Council, which may deny your request, issue a new decision or return the case to the administrative law judge.
The last level of appeal is filing a civil action in a federal district court.
Keep in mind that according to the Social Security Administrations statistics, only 31.8 percent of those who applied for disability benefits ultimately received them in 2021.
Throughout the application and appeal process, you may consider hiring a disability lawyer, who could review your applications strength and, if your disability claim is denied, guide you through the appeal process.
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Want To Get More Involved With Patient Advocacy
The 50-State Network is the grassroots advocacy arm of CreakyJoints and the Global Healthy Living Foundation. It is comprised of patients with chronic illness who are trained as health care activists to proactively connect with local, state, and federal health policy stakeholders to share their perspective and influence change. If you want to effect change and make health care more affordable and accessible to patients with chronic illness, learn more here.
Can You Collect Social Security And Disability
Wondering whether you can collect Social Security and Social Security Disability Insurance at the same time? The short answer is probably not. The long answer, however, is maybe. Social Security and SSDI serve similar purposes, but the requirements vary for each. Social Security is for those whove reached early or full retirement age, while disability insurance typically serves younger individuals who cannot work due to serious medical conditions. However, an exception may apply. Heres what you need to know.
A financial advisor can help you manage social security benefits and create a financial plan for your long-term retirement needs and goals.
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If You Get Social Security Disability Income And Have Medicare
- Youâre considered covered under the health care law and donât have to pay the penalty that people without coverage must pay.
- You canât enroll in a Marketplace plan to replace or supplement your Medicare coverage.
- One exception: If you enrolled in a Marketplace plan before getting Medicare, you can keep your Marketplace plan as supplemental insurance when you enroll in Medicare. But if you do this, youâll lose any premium tax credits and other savings for your Marketplace plan.
Can You Receive Retroactive Payments
Once the SSA approves your SSDI application and calculates your monthly benefit, you may be entitled to a back pay award. How many months of payments you will receive will depend on the date you applied for benefits and your disability onset date.
If you are applying for SSDI benefits, you need the assistance of a skilled Social Security disability lawyer to get your application approved and receive the benefits you deserve. To schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team, fill out the online form on this page or call our Roswell office today.
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Returning To Work While On Ssdi
If you return to work while receiving SSDI benefits, the SSA will want to determine if you are “engaging in substantial gainful activity” . Basically, that means working more than a little bit. The biggest factor in determining if work activity qualifies as SGA is the amount a person is paid.
In 2022, someone is generally considered to be engaging in SGA if they earn more than $1,350 a month For example, if you’re making, say, $200 per week doing part-time work, you wouldn’t be working over the SGA limit. But this isn’t a cut and dry issue. If you’re working a lot, it’s possible for Social Security to determine that your job activity counts as SGA even if you’re earning less than the SGA amount.
One exception to the SGA rule is what’s referred to as a “trial work period” . This period of time allows someone who is currently receiving SSDI benefits to attempt to return to work without automatically losing their SSDI eligibility. In most cases, you can work for up to nine months during your trial work period without causing your SSDI benefits to stop, regardless of how much money you’re making. If, at the end of the TWP, you’re still working and making over the SGA level, Social Security will no longer consider you disabled, and your Social Security payments will stop. For more information, see our article on the trial work period and the three-year time period that follows, the “extended period of eligibility.”
Why Am I Getting An Increase In My December Ssi Check
The Social Security Administration has a strict schedule it follows when sending out monthly payments. For those who receive SSI, their payments are almost always sent out on the first of each month.
There are two reasons why your payment wouldn’t arrive on the first of any month: If the regular payment date falls on a holiday or a weekend.
In January 2023, the first of the month falls on a holiday and a weekend. When this happens, the administration sends the checks earlier on the nearest business day — in this case, a Friday. So instead of receiving your January 2023 check in January, you’ll get it in December of this year.
You can check your COLA increase in December.
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