Severe disabilities can prevent you from living a normal life. If your disability hinders you from working, you may be eligible to receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Our Cincinnati Social Security Disability lawyers are often asked questions by clients and potential clients about the process of applying for disability benefits. Here are some of these questions along with answers to help explain what you need to know if you are considering applying for disability benefits.
How Much Compensation Will I Receive?
The amount of your monthly disability check depends on whether you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
SSDI benefit amounts are based on your average earnings before you became disabled. Any earnings that had taxes and Social Security taken out will count toward your average earnings.
The average SSDI benefit amount in 2019 is $1,234. The maximum benefit amount in 2019 is $2,861.
SSI benefits are available to certain low-income individuals. The maximum benefit amount for an individual claimant in 2019 is $771. The maximum benefit amount for a married couple, if both are eligible for benefits, is $1,157.
The amount of benefits you receive will be reduced if you receive other benefits or income, such as veterans’ benefits, unemployment income, workers’ compensation or earnings from working.
How Long Will My Disability Benefits Last?
Eligibility for disability benefits usually continues for as long as you are considered disabled. The SSA conducts periodic reviews to determine if claimants are still disabled, which are called Continuing Disability Reviews (CDR). These may be scheduled every few years, depending on the severity of the claimant’s condition. Additionally, claimants are required to report changes in their disability, even if this would cause them to lose benefits.
Benefits generally stop in one of the following situations:
- The claimant is no longer disabled – If the claimant’s condition changes so that he or she no longer meets the SSA’s definition of disabled, benefits will end. This may occur when the claimant recovers from his or her disability.
- The claimant reaches retirement age – When the claimant reaches full retirement age, SSD benefits cease and the claimant begins receiving Social Security retirement benefits.
- The claimant earns too much money – If the claimant’s earnings increase above the substantial gainful activity limit, he or she will no longer be eligible to receive disability benefits.
- The claimant successfully completes a trial work period – Once you start earning more than a certain amount of money, it triggers a trial work period. In 2019, a trial work period will be triggered if someone earns more than $880 per month. If you continue earning this amount for at least nine months over a period of 60 months, you will no longer be considered disabled.
Are My Disability Benefits Taxable?
SSI benefits typically are not taxable because claimants must make below a certain amount of money to be eligible for benefits – SSI beneficiaries usually have income levels below the taxable limit. SSDI benefits for children are not taxable either.
When SSDI benefits are your only source of income, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does not tax them. However, SSDI benefits may be taxable if you or your spouse have other income that puts your total income over a certain threshold.
If you have other income, you must add half of your SSD benefits on top, and if that puts you over certain tax thresholds, you will owe taxes:
- If you are single and make more than $25,000, 50 percent of your disability benefits are taxable.
- If you are single and make more than $34,000 per year, 85 percent of your benefits are taxable.
- If you and your spouse file jointly and your combined income is between $32,000 and $44,000, 50 percent of your disability benefits are taxable.
- If you and your spouse file jointly and your combined income exceeds $44,000, 85 percent of your benefits are taxable.
Where Can I Find More Help?
If you have further questions about SSDI or SSI benefits, the disability benefits lawyers at O’Connor, Acciani & Levy can help.
We can discuss your application for benefits during a free consultation. Because we work on a contingency fee basis, you pay no upfront fees and only pay us for our services if your application is approved. We can help you with all stages of your application and the appeal process if you are denied benefits.