How to Increase Social Security Disability Payments
You’ve been approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), but now you’re wondering if your payments are enough. “How can I increase my SSDI payments?” you might ask. At Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C., we’re committed to helping you get the most out of your benefits. From making sense of the eligibility criteria to managing the appeals process, we’ve got your back.
Understanding Social Security Disability Payments
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal program designed to provide financial assistance to people who cannot work due to a disability. Funded through payroll taxes, SSDI is essentially a form of insurance that workers pay into during their working years. But SSDI isn’t just for any disability. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has strict criteria for what counts as a “disabling condition.”
To qualify for SSDI, you must have a severe, long-term, total disability. In this context, a “severe” condition is one that interferes with basic work-related activities. A “long-term” condition is one that has lasted or is expected to last at least one year. And a “total disability” is one that prevents you from performing substantial gainful activity (SGA) to earn a suitable income, even with accommodations.
The amount of SSDI benefits you receive each month will depend on your average lifetime earnings before your disability began, not on the severity of your disability. It’s here where an attorney can work to maximize your SSDI benefits and pursue the full financial support you’re entitled to.
Factors That Influence Social Security Disability Payments
The SSA considers several factors when determining the amount of your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments. These factors focus primarily on your work history and income levels, but other factors like family circumstances can also play a role.
Here are some of the main factors:
- Earnings History – The SSA uses your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME) over your working life to calculate your primary insurance amount (PIA), the base of your SSDI benefit. Higher lifetime earnings generally result in higher SSDI payments.
- Disability Onset Date – The date when your disability began, as established by the SSA, influences when you start receiving benefits and could potentially impact the amount, especially when considering retroactive benefits.
- Age – Your age at the time of disability onset can affect your benefit amount, as it influences how the SSA calculates your AIME.
- Work Credits – The number of work credits you’ve accumulated over your career also factors into your benefit amount. These credits are based on your annual earnings and can influence eligibility and payment amounts.
- Family Status – If you have a spouse or children who qualify for SSDI dependent benefits, this can increase your overall SSDI payment. Each eligible family member could receive a monthly payment of up to 50 percent of your disability rate.
- Income from Other Sources – Certain kinds of additional income could affect your SSDI benefits. For example, if you receive workers’ compensation or other public disability benefits, it could reduce your SSDI benefits.
Maximizing Your Social Security Disability Payments
A disability law attorney can play an instrumental role in maximizing your SSDI benefits. Here’s how:
- Taking Advantage of Work Incentives – Your attorney can help you explore the SSA’s work incentive programs, which could allow you to increase your income without affecting your SSDI benefits. They can also guide you in determining whether these programs are right for you.
- Leveraging Spousal and Dependent Benefits – If you’re married or have dependent children, an attorney can help you evaluate and apply for additional benefits, which could significantly increase your overall SSDI payment.
- Filing Appeals When Necessary – If your SSDI claim was denied, or you think your benefits are lower than they should be, an attorney can handle the appeals process on your behalf. This process can be lengthy and complex, but it can also increase your benefits.
- Accounting for Annual Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLAs) – An attorney can explain and help you make the most of annual COLAs, which are automatic adjustments designed to counteract the effects of inflation, potentially increasing your SSDI benefits over time.
- Avoiding Common Mistakes – An attorney can help you avoid common mistakes that lead to reduced benefits, such as failing to report changes in your income or medical condition to the SSA. With the proper guidance, you can avoid inadvertently decreasing your benefits.
Get in Touch with a Social Security Disability Attorney Today
Understanding how to increase your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits can be a game changer. At Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C., we know how important these benefits are in maintaining your quality of life, and our team is dedicated to helping you take full advantage of them.
Call us now at 516-496-0400 for a free initial consultation to discover how we can maximize your benefits together.