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The following information provides a snap shot of Social Security disability benefits. Individuals may receive benefits under either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
If I am approved for Social Security disability benefits, how much will I get?
- For disability insurance benefits, the amount depends on how much you have worked and earned in the past.
- For disabled widow's and widower's benefits, the amount depends upon how much the late husband or wife worked and earned.
- For disabled adult child benefits, the amount depends upon how much the parent worked and earned.
In general, benefits are very modest. The average SSDI benefit for a disabled worker is about $1,171 per month. For a family, the average benefit is approximately $1,851 per month.
If I am approved for SSI benefits, how much will I get?
SSI is an income-based program designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people who have little or no income. Because of this, any other income a SSI recipient receives will generally reduce his or her monthly SSI benefit amount.
In 2017, the Federal maximum for monthly SSI benefits is $735 for an eligible individual. But, since a receipient's monthly benefit amount is reduced by subtracting countable income, the average SSI monthly benefit is around $542 per month for all recipients. Some States also supplement SSI benefits, meaning the State pays additional money to increase the recipient's monthly Federal SSI payment.
How far back will they pay benefits if I am found disabled?
- For disability insurance benefits and disabled widow's and widower's benefits, benefits cannot be paid until the beneficiary has been disabled for five months (aka "the five-month mandatory waiting period"). In addition, benefits cannot be paid more than one year prior to the date in which the claim was filed.
- For a disabled adult child, there is no five-month waiting period for benefits to begin, but retroactivity depends on what specific type of benefit the parent receives. For instance, if the parent receives retirement insurance benefits, childhood disability benefits can be paid up to six months prior to the filing date on the application date. But, if the parent receives disability insurance benefits, childhood disability benefits can be paid up to one year prior to the application date.
- For SSI, benefits cannot be paid prior to the start of the month following the claim's application filing date.
I am already receiving Social Security disability benefits, but I am worried that my benefits will be stopped in the future. What are the chances of this happening?
Social Security periodically reviews individual cases to determine eligibility for disability benefits (aka a Continuing Disability Review or CDR). When Social Security reviews a case of someone already on Social Security disability benefits, they continue benefits in the vast majority of cases.
In the next few years, Social Security will be completing far more reviews of beneficiaries to determine whether they are still disabled. However, most individuals who are reviewed will see their Social Security disability benefits continued.
If Social Security tries to cut off my disability benefits, what can I do?
You should appeal immediately. If you appeal within 10 days of being notified that your disability benefits are being ceased, you can ask that your disability benefits continue while you appeal the decision to terminate your benefits. If you do not appeal within the first 60 days of receiving the notification, you may lose the right to appeal.
You may also want to talk with an attorney about representing you on your case, but you should file the appeal immediately.
Adapted from a publication from Charles T. Hall, Esq., NOSSCR Past President.