The maximum for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is unique for each person. How much you’ll receive depends on your situation and what you’ve paid into Social Security. Remember, there’s no hard guarantee that you can end up with SSDI if you apply for it.
Getting total disability coverage can look different depending on the circumstances you have. Let’s look at what 100% SSDI can mean for you. Our lawyers explain how SSDI functions, what qualifies for 100% SSDI, and how the application process works.
Understanding What Qualifies You for 100% SSDI
To qualify for SSDI, you must have a total disability. Under 20 CFR § 404.1505, a complete disability means:
- You have a medical condition that prevents you from working
- Your condition will last at least 12 months or result in death
- You cannot do any past or new forms of work
If you have a total disability, you must also have paid into Social Security. This is because when you earn wages, a portion goes towards Social Security taxes. If you’ve paid enough into these taxes, you can qualify for disability benefits.
Most people must have at least 40 work credits to qualify. You must have earned 20 of those credits within the 10 years before your disability. In 2022, one work credit equals $1,510 in wages or self-employed income. You can earn up to four work credits per year.
The SSA will consider all of the above when determining your SSDI. According to the SSA 2022 fact sheet, the average monthly amount for SSDI is $1,358. Your benefits could be less or more than the average. The maximum Social Security benefit is $4,194 per month for a worker retiring at full retirement age.
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How Much SSDI Benefits You Can Receive
The SSA will use a complicated formula to calculate your benefits. Since benefits depend on total disability, your SSDI benefits will be 100% of what you qualify to receive. Any income you’ve paid into Social Security taxes is “covered earnings.” Over a specific time, the average covered earnings are your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME).
The SSA will use your AIME to calculate your primary insurance amount (PIA). This number will determine your benefits. Your yearly Social Security statement will show your covered earnings. You can also use the SSA’s online calculator to see what your benefits will be. You can also have a local Social Security office or SSDI lawyer help you estimate your benefits.
Receiving Less Than 100% of Your SSDI Benefits
Some factors can reduce your SSDI benefits. For example, temporary state disability benefits, workers’ compensation, and other government benefits can impact SSDI.
You cannot get over 80% of the average income you earned before your disability. If you earn more than that percentage through other income, it might reduce your SSDI. However, private disability insurance benefits will not impact your SSDI.
How SSDI Payments Work
If the SSA approves you for benefits, you’ll get your monthly benefits. There is a five-month waiting period. You must have been disabled for five months before you can receive benefits.
You’ll receive payments starting on the sixth whole month after your disability begins.
You can collect payments through direct deposit or have them loaded onto a debit card. Your benefits will come through on a Wednesday. Depending on your birth date, you might get your payments on the second, third, or fourth Wednesday of the month.
Although there is a waiting period, you should apply for benefits as soon as possible. There is no waiting period for when you can file a claim. Some conditions are severe enough to get nearly-automatic approval.
How the SSA Approves an SSDI Application
The SSA has a specific process for evaluating SSDI applications. First, they will ask a series of questions to see if you’re fully disabled:
Are You Currently Working?
If you work and earn more than a certain amount, you will not qualify. In addition, you must not be engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA).
In 2022, the limit for SGA is $1,350 per month. This number changes each year, so check with a Social Security Disability lawyer to be sure. If you are not making SGA, you’ll move on to the next question.
Is Your Condition “Severe?”
You must have a condition that impairs your ability to work. The SSA maintains a list of conditions that they consider disabling. If your condition is not on the list, the SSA will compare your condition to a similar one.
A severe condition prevents you from doing basic tasks like standing, sitting, and walking. If you can do some form of work, the SSA will not consider you disabled. If your condition is severe, you’ll move on to the next question.
Can You Do Any Form of Work?
First, the SSA will see if you can do any work you used to do. If so, you will not be considered disabled. If not, the SSA will see if you can perform other types of work.
If Social Security determines that you cannot do any work with your condition, it will consider you disabled. However, if you have a total disability and have earned enough work credits, the SSA should approve your claim.
Your Actual Disability Rarely Matters
Unlike personal injury cases, the actual disability you have rarely matters in SSDI calculations. Instead, it’s the amount of money you’ve paid into the system and your lifetime average earnings.
Where your disability does matter is in approval. For starters, it has to be severe enough to qualify for SSDI, as discussed before. There are also some forms of disability that the government automatically considers to be permanently disabling.
If you have one of these conditions, your case has a high likelihood of getting approved. Your SSDI payments will hinge on how much you’ve paid into the system.
SSA Rejections Are Common
When you submit your application and finally get a response, don’t be surprised if you receive a rejection from the SSA. Rejections are extremely common, and most people don’t get accepted for benefits the first time around. This could be due to various reasons:
- Too many past rejections or appeals.
- Your disability isn’t severe enough.
- The SSA doesn’t think your situation qualifies.
- Lack of information or incorrectly filling out paperwork
In addition, you could also end up with only a small amount of benefits despite the fact that you deserve more. There are options available to you in these instances, and with help from one of your lawyers, you can appeal and get the benefits you need.
Don’t Give Up on Your Benefits
SSDI is a system you’ve been paying into for almost all your working lifetime. So, if you get rejected, don’t get disheartened and throw in the towel early. While the appeals process isn’t easy, what’s even harder is going into economic hardship due to the lack of financial support and resources you have.
When you hire one of our SSDI lawyers to assist you, we will thoroughly guide you through the application and appeal process. In addition, we will represent your best interests. Our primary goal is to ensure that you receive your benefits. Therefore, we don’t take any money upfront and get paid unless we can resolve your case successfully.
You Can Get Retroactive Payments
One good thing about SSDI is that you may get a back pay award if your application takes longer than expected. It depends on the date you applied for benefits and when your disability happened. Our Social Security lawyers can tell you if you qualify for these.
Retroactive payments can make the wait worthwhile and give you a large up-front sum to pay off creditors that have been waiting for your SSDI approval.
Talk to a Social Security Disability Lawyer for Free Today
SSDI should provide benefits to help you and your family. If you need help with your application, our Social Security Disability lawyers can help. At John Foy & Associates, we know what the SSA is looking for to approve a claim and how to get you as close to 100% SSDI as possible.
We’ll listen to your concerns and answer your questions during a free consultation. We do not charge you a fee unless we win you money. Call or contact us online to schedule an appointment today.