People who apply for Social Security Disability benefits (SSD or SSDI) often wait up to a year before they finally learn their claim was approved. Once that day arrives, recipients have a hundred questions that need to be answered to fully understand how the benefits system works. As Social Security Disability law specialists, The Law Firm has helped thousands of disabled workers get SSD benefits. We make sure our clients learn everything there is to know about their benefits.
How Is The Amount Of Your Social Security Disability Benefit Payment Calculated?
Social Security Disability benefits are provided to workers who earned the necessary minimum credits by working and paying Social Security taxes into the Social Security Trust Fund. The fund is dedicated to paying those workers who become disabled due to either injury or illness.
The Social Security Administration (SSA)reviews your annual taxable income over a set period of years and then applies a formula to arrive at your benefit amount. Each January, the SSA increases your benefit payment in an amount roughly equivalent to the inflation rate of the year just ended. This “cost of living adjustment” (COLA) effective in January 2021 was 1.3%.
If you think your Social Security Disability benefit has been miscalculated, or you did not see the COLA in your monthly payment, contact the experienced Social Security Disability lawyers at Lawto assist you.
Contrary to what some people believe, the amount of each Social Security Disability recipient’s benefit payment does not reflect the severity or permanence of their impairment. Only the benefit recipient’s past taxable income is plugged into the formula.
When Will You Get Your First Check?
There is a 5-month waiting period from the onset of your disability before Social Security Disability payments will begin. In most cases, the waiting period will have elapsed before your benefits are approved.
The first monthly benefit check covering the sixth month of your disability will arrive separately from any past due amounts. If the onset of your disability was deemed to be 18 months before you received your first payment, then you will receive a separate payment for the past 13 months in a lump sum.
The Law Firm is one of the few North Carolina certified Social Security law practitioners. A Social Security attorney knows the details of every regulation and procedure that applies to your Social Security claim.
Can You Work While You Are Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits?
The question may seem odd since you are receiving benefits due to your total disability. But the Social Security Disability benefits are granted based on a worker’s inability to perform “substantial gainful activity,” or SGA. For 2021, the Social Security Administration set the SGA earning amount at $1,310 per month. An impairment that prevents a worker from earning $1,310 per month is considered a disability for Social Security Disability purposes.
Remember that the Social Security Administration wants Social Security Disability benefits recipients to recover from their disability and resume working. An Social Security Disability recipient can earn up to $940 and continue to receive their full benefit without interruption.
To encourage Social Security Disability recipients to attempt to return to work, the SSA created a program called the Trial Work Period. The Trial Work Period was designed to ease the fears of people who think they’ll lose their benefits if they try to go back to work and earn money. Under the Trial Work Period, you can return to work and earn as much as possible for up to 9 months without any reduction in your Social Security Disability benefit payment.
The 9 months in which you may return to work on a trial basis do not need to be consecutive. The 9 months can be spread over 5 years. Any month in which you earn more than $940 will be considered as one of the 9 Trial Work Period months.
Contact the best Social Security lawyer near you to get all the answers about working while you are receiving Social Security Disability benefits. The questions are important and Law wants you to have the power of legal knowledge when you decide what you want to do.
Will Other Government Payments Reduce The Amount Of Your Social Security Disability Benefit Payments?
Receiving payments from another federal, state, or municipal program can affect the amount of your Social Security Disability benefit payment.
Many Social Security Disability beneficiaries have an open worker’s compensation claim because they suffered a disabling injury at work. If you are receiving a regular worker’s compensation payment while receiving SSD benefit payments, one or the other of those payments will be reduced to ensure you do not receive more than your benefit level.
In many cases, a worker receives Social Security Disability benefits while they have an open, unpaid worker’s compensation claim. The worker’s comp claim could be contested and may take years to finally be resolved. If an SSD recipient is awarded a lump sum settlement for a worker’s compensation claim, then their SSD payments will be suspended.
The amount of the lump sum worker’s comp settlement is compared to your monthly SSD benefit. For example, if the settlement is equal to 24 months of SSD payments, then the SSD benefits would be suspended for two years.
Of course, it’s important to remember that the worker doesn’t receive the entire settlement. Lawyer fees and other expenses that are deducted from the settlement need to be recorded so the Social Security Administration does not charge too much of the settlement to the SSD recipient.
Will You Be Eligible For Medicare If You Get SSD Benefits?
Social Security Disability recipients become eligible for Medicare health insurance coverage after 2 years. Some disabilities may entitle a recipient to almost immediate Medicare coverage. Examples include permanent kidney failure needing dialysis, transplant candidates, or ALS sufferers.
There are also SSD recipients who are also receiving Supplemental Security Income because their income and financial resources are very low. In these cases, the State of North Carolina will provide financial support to help pay the cost of Medicare premiums, deductibles, and copayments. The North Carolina Extra Help program will help defray prescription medication costs.
How Long Will You Continue To Get SSD Benefits?
Your eligibility for continued SSD benefit payments will last as long as you remain totally disabled. Your benefit payments will be interrupted only if you recover from your impairment, or if you return to work, or you can do so.
The Social Security Administration does review cases periodically to determine if the recipient’s impairment is still disabling. This period review process is triggered at different intervals depending on the nature of the recipient’s disability. The availability of advanced medical procedures and improved therapies can lead to an impairment improving over time.
The case is reviewed by examining current medical records. In some cases, the SSA may request a medical examination be conducted. The large volume of SSD cases across the country keeps these reviews from occurring frequently or from examining most cases in depth.
Where a recipient’s disability is more susceptible to improvement with treatment, the periodic review may be conducted at 6-month to 18-month intervals. In cases where improvement and recovery are possible, the reviews can occur every 3 years. In cases where recovery is rare, the reviews are scheduled every 7 years.
What Happens When You Reach Full Retirement Age?
Unfortunately, SSD beneficiaries often remain unable to perform substantial gainful employment for the rest of their working life. When an SSD beneficiary reaches full retirement age, 66 years and 8 months, the SSD benefit payment automatically changes to Social Security retirement benefits. But the amount of the payment remains the same.
What Happens If You Earn Unreported Income And Get SSD Benefits Payments?
The federal government requires self-reporting of countable income during the time you receive SSD benefits. Recipients who work and earn money they don’t report to the SSA can have their benefit payments suspended. For a first offense, your benefits can be suspended for 6 months. A second offense can lead to a 1-year suspension of benefits. A third offense will lead to a 2-year suspension of payments.
In addition to losing your benefit payments for the period indicated, you will be required to repay any money you were overpaid due to your failure to report income.
Law Has All The Answers To Your Social Security Disability Questions.
The Law Firm specializes in representing disabled workers who want to apply for SSD and SSI benefits. Our team of experienced lawyers and SSD experts review every case and collect all the necessary documents and medical records to support our clients’ claims.
We prepare every application, so its merit is clear, and the package is complete with all supportive documents and medical records. We also stay with you to the final decision, and we will fight any unfair benefit denial through the entire appeal process.