How much can I get in Social Security Disability Income?

How does Social Security determine how much my disability benefit will be, i.e. how much will I get in Social Security income?

Social Security Disability income, or the dollar amount of benefits a person can expect to receive upon qualifying for disability, is based on an individual's earnings prior to becoming disabled.

Each year, a person works and pays payroll taxes and this posts an amount on their Social Security earnings record. The monthly disability benefit amount they may receive is equal to the amount they would receive if they were already full retirement age.

Will my family or children receive money?

Social Security Disability also offers additional income to the family or dependents of a disabled worker if they have worked enough for there to be money left on their record after they are paid their monthly disability benefits. Social Security could potentially pay a monthly benefit to the individual's spouse and dependent children.

If you would like to get an estimate of what your disability benefit would be and the amount that might be available for your dependents, you can contact your local Social Security office.

Is there a set amount?

There is no standard Social Security income disability amount; consequently the amount can be very high or very low. It really all depends upon an individual's earnings record prior to become disabled. In fact, some individuals have Social Security Disability benefits that are so low that they are still eligible to receive SSI benefits as well. In these cases, there generally is no extra amount on the record to be paid to dependents.

How can you get Social Security Disability?

If you have not been able to work for the previous twelve months, or you expect not to be able to work for twelve months due to a mental or physical condition, or you have a medical condition that is considered to be terminal, you should consider filing to receive Social Security Disability income.

All Social Security Disability programs begin with filing a claim with the Social Security Administration; this will usually involve a disability interview with a Social Security claims representative in person at your local Social Security office.

What happens during a Social Security Disability interview?

The Social Security claims representative will ask you questions about your medical history (names, phone numbers and addresses, and dates of treatment for all of the clinics, hospitals, and physicians you have seen at in the last twelve months).

Additionally, you will be asked about your work history, which simply means what types of jobs you have had over the last fifteen years, and about how long you performed each type of job.

Social Security considers your medical and/or mental conditions, work history, and your education when making a final decision on your disability claim. Once you have provided all of this information to Social Security, your claim is sent to the state disability processing agency for a medical determination.

How long will the disability claim take?

The processing time for a disability claim generally take between thirty and ninety days, although some claims may take less than thirty days while others may take over ninety days. If your disability claim is denied, you may have to begin the appeal process, which may take several months, or more than two years if you have to have an administrative law judge hearing to determine your medical disability.

If Social Security determines that you are disabled under the rules and regulations of Social Security Disability, you will be approved (for Social Security Disability or SSI) and will receive a monthly monetary disability benefit. Most likely, you will also receive back pay as well (back pay is often payable back to the time of your application, but your onset date must be proven with your medical records).

SSI disability versus Social Security Disability

Social Security Disability is based upon insured status which is based upon the earnings that you performed prior to becoming disabled.

If you have not worked enough to be insured for Social Security Disability or it is determinated that you would receive a very small amount of Social Security Disability (possibly because you have not worked much over the years, worked on a cash basis, or were self employed), you may not be able receive Social Security Disability.

In that case, you may qualify for SSI, the need-based program also known as Supplemental Security Income. However, the Social Security claims representative at the social security office will go over all of that with you at the time of your disability interview.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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