If you are unable to work you may be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. Disability benefits are paid on a monthly basis. One of the first questions we are often asked, is how much that benefit might be. Well, the amount of your monthly benefit will depend on a number of different factors, beginning with which type of benefit you may be eligible to receive.
There are two basic benefits which are paid to people who are disabled and eligible for Social Security disability. Under certain circumstances, you may be entitled to receive one, both or some combination of each (or none, if you are not determined to be “disabled”).
In order to be eligible for either type of benefit, you must first meet the definition of “disabled” used by the Social Security Administration. This article is not intended to discuss the complicated issue of what constitutes “disability”. We will deal with that in a future article. However, you should know that it is not enough to simply be unable to perform your previous work. The evaluation process used by Social Security is more detailed than that and involves consideration of what impairments you have and how long they might last, your education and prior employment skills, whether you are presently working, your age and your physical and functional abilities (how much can you lift, how long can you sit or stand, etc.).
Assuming that you qualify as “disabled”, the two basic types of benefits available are:
DISABILITY INSURANCE BENEFITS (DIB). These benefits are based upon what you have paid into the Social Security system over the years of your employment. This amount will vary from person to person. Payment amounts are calculated based on your earnings before you become disabled and the number of years you worked while paying Social Security taxes. The more money you made in the years before you became disabled, the higher your monthly payment will be. At any stage of your application process, a Social Security office representative can usually tell you approximately what your benefit will be if you are awarded. Or, you can use the benefit estimate calculator on the Social Security Administration website.
If you have been out of work for several years, one of the important factors considered in your claim is when you were “last insured”. If you are no longer working and paying Social Security taxes, you will eventually lose coverage. This means that for some people, you may need to establish that you have been disabled back to some retroactive date when you were “last insured”. These types of claims can be particularly difficult if the medical evidence does not support a retroactive date of disability.
SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME (SSI). This is a benefit available to blind or disabled people who have not paid enough Social Security taxes to be “insured” for DIB. This may be because you have been out of work for a long period of time or have never worked and paid taxes into the Social Security system. The standard of “disability” is exactly the same for either type of benefit, but the monthly amount is different. To receive SSI benefits, you must establish that you are blind or disabled, but in addition, you must also prove that you have limited income, assets and resources to qualify. The benefit amount is the same for everyone and generally increases slightly every year.
Making your way through the Social Security disability system can be a long, confusing and complicated process. The majority of claims are denied following the initial application. If you have any questions about whether to apply for benefits or when you should hire a representative, please feel free to contact Bradt Law Offices any time for a free consultation throughout northern Minnesota and across the Iron Range. If you hire us to represent you, we don’t ask you for any money up front or at any point during your claim. We only get paid if we win the case.
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