Social Security Disability Benefits
The main objective when applying for Social Security disability is to receive financial assistance. After the lengthy and often complicated SSD process has been completed and you have been awarded Social Security disability, there are a few things you can expect when it comes to the benefits you, and possibly your family, can receive. It should be mentioned that your application approval is never guaranteed, and in order to greatly reduce your risk of being denied SSD benefits, it is strongly suggested that you contact an experienced attorney from our firm as early as possible.
Your Claim is Approved
Once the Social Security Administration has determined that you meet the eligibility requirements and approve your claim, you will receive information from the SSA about the amount of your monthly benefit and the effective date. Your first Social Security disability benefit will be paid to you six months after the date your disability began. For example, if it was determined that your disability began in January, your first disability payment will be paid for July. It is also important to remember that benefits are paid in the month following the month for which they are due, meaning your July benefit will be received in August.
The duration of your disability benefits will continue as long as your medical condition or physical impairment does not improve and you are still unable to work. The SSA will review your case periodically while you are receiving benefits to determine if your condition has improved or if you have recovered from your injuries. In order to ensure that you are still disabled, the SSA requires you to report if:
- There are changes in your ability to work
- You return to work
- Your medical condition improves
You are obligated to report these changes, if and when they do occur, as they can significantly impact your benefits. In addition, your benefits will increase each January if the cost of living has increased. If the cost of living has risen by 2%, for instance, your benefits will also increase by 2%. These cost of living adjustments are done automatically and will be reflected on you benefit amounts.
The amount of your monthly disability benefit will be primarily based on your average earnings covered by Social Security, meaning your lifetime income on which you paid taxes. Amounts can fluctuate, depending on your age, average income, amount of taxes paid and tax bracket. Although the Social Security Administration provides online estimation calculators for your expected benefit amount, benefit amounts will always vary on a case by case basis. It should also be mentioned that the amount of your benefits may be affected by other benefits you receive, including workers' compensation. A qualified attorney can thoroughly assess your situation to compute your benefit amount and inform you if it will be affected or adjusted in any way.
Families and Benefits
Depending on the circumstances involved in your claim, certain members of your family may also qualify for benefits. These family members include:
- Spouse, age 62 or older
- Spouse, any age if they are caring for your child who is younger than 16 or disabled
- Unmarried children, including adopted child, stepchild or grandchild age younger than 18
- Unmarried children, age 18 and older if they have a disability before age 22
The benefits your family can receive depend on a variety of factors. Most importantly, you must have a sufficient amount of "work credits," or a consistent history of employment and tax payments. Benefits for each family member is limited to up to 50% of your disability, and the maximum total amount your family can receive typically ranges from about 150% to 180% of your benefits. An attorney from our firm can diligently evaluate your situation in order to determine how your family will be affected and can work toward the goals you have for your benefits and family members.
Taxes and Benefits
The Social Security Administration reports that approximately one-third of people receiving Social Security disability pay taxes on their benefits. You will most likely pay taxes on your benefits if:
- You file a federal tax return as an "individual" and income is more than $25,000
- You file a joint return and your combined income is more than $32,000
- If you are married and file a separate tax return
Whether or not you pay taxes depends if you have a substantial income in addition to your Social Security benefits. While some individuals may have no option but to pay taxes, people with income that hovers in the grey area of the SSA tax cut offs, such as $25,000 and $32,000 for joint returns, may not always have to pay taxes. A qualified and experienced attorney from our firm can assess your current financial situation and inform you how your benefits may be affected by taxes.
You may also be able to receive other benefits in addition to your disability, depending on your situation. Disabled individuals who are age 65 or older can receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in monthly payments in addition to disability benefits. You may also be eligible for Medicare after 24 months of disability, particularly if your medical condition is permanent. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is also available for those who can benefit from food stamps.
In addition to these federal benefit programs, the SSA also provides services that are designed to help individuals get back to work. While you test your ability to work, you can still receive your disability cash benefits and Medicare. At Shook & Stone, we make it a point to provide our clients with the information and resources for other benefits they may be eligible for, and we can closely evaluate your case to determine which additional programs are available.
Learn More About Benefits from Shook & Stone
Highly familiar with all the intricacies of Social Security Disability, our attorneys are here to help you navigate through this difficult process and provide you with the best chance of obtaining the benefits you deserve. Benefit acceptance and amounts vary drastically from case to case, and it is essential that you have an experienced and qualified attorney from our firm personally evaluate your situation.
In addition to the legal services we offer, our firm also focuses on alleviating your worries by providing you with knowledgeable advice, compassionate support and ample resources you may have not known about. At Shook & Stone, our Social Security Disability services are truly designed as a comprehensive form of serving the community and helping those in need obtain the assistance they need. With 85 years of experience and more than $100 million in compensation recovered for our clients since 1997, you can trust that our firm has the skills and dedication needed to be successful. If you would like to learn more about your personal disability benefits, contact Shook & Stone today.