Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits provide income to those with disabilities. However, many people need help from a lawyer to get approval. Our Social Security Disability lawyers can help.
John Foy & Associates has been helping SSD applicants for over 20 years. We know what it takes to win your claim. Plus, we will not charge you unless we win your case.
How Social Security Disability Benefits Work
Social Security Disability insurance first became law in 1956, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA). Then, in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law. These laws help protect Americans with disabilities.
Under the law, those with disabilities should have the same rights as everybody else. If you or a loved one can no longer work because of a disability, you have options. You might be eligible for Social Security Disability.
When you earn income, the government withholds Social Security taxes from your paycheck. These taxes go towards Social Security Disability benefits. If you’ve become disabled, you have a right to the benefits you’ve paid into.
What Conditions Automatically Qualify You for Social Security Disability?
Conditions on the Compassionate Allowances list automatically qualify. These conditions are severe enough to need benefits immediately. The Social Security Administration processes these applications faster.
- Adult brain disorders
- ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- Acute leukemia
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Stage IV breast cancer
- Inflammatory breast cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Small cell lung cancer
- Gallbladder cancer
- Muscular dystrophy
- Rare childhood disorders
The Compassionate Allowances list contains more than 200 conditions. If your condition is on this list, you probably qualify for expedited approval. Certain organ transplants also automatically qualify for benefits for at least 12 months.
If I Qualify, Then What?
If your condition automatically qualifies, you only need to prove your condition through your medical records. You do not have to submit additional information as a “regular” applicant would. You’ll usually receive benefits between a few weeks and a couple of months, which is much faster than the several months that other applicants wait.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) will also look at your financial situation. If you are earning too much, they might deny your claim. However, most individuals with severe conditions are not able to earn much money – if anything at all – which is why they are applying for assistance.
How Much does Social Security Disability Pay per Month?
Your benefits per month depend on your average lifetime earnings before you became disabled. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will look at how much you paid into Social Security through your wages. The severity of your condition does not determine your monthly pay.
A fact sheet from the SSA for 2020 shows the average monthly payment was $1,259. This changes from year to year. If you are getting benefits from other programs, your SSD might pay you less. You cannot receive benefits totaling more than 80% of what you were making before your disability.
You can figure out how much SSD will pay you in two ways:
- Online through your Social Security account
- Through the SSA’s Benefits Calculator
You can enter information into the calculator as if your disability started today. A Social Security Disability lawyer can also help determine what your monthly Social Security benefits should be.
When Can I Expect My Payout?
SSD will pay you on the sixth full month after you become disabled. You’ll get paid each month based on what’s due the previous month. For example, you would get your August benefits in September.
You might also be eligible for back payments. Back payments provide benefits for the time between when you became disabled and when you were approved.
Who Qualifies for Social Security Disability?
To qualify for Social Security Disability, someone must have:
- Enough work credits through wages covered by Social Security
- A disabling medical condition that the SSA accepts
- Been unable to work for a year or more
SSD only provides benefits for total disabilities. You cannot get benefits for a short-term or partial disability.
The SSA will look at your work credits and disability to see if you qualify.
When you earn income covered by Social Security, you pay Social Security taxes. Your employer takes a portion of your wages for these taxes. To qualify for SSD, you must have enough work credits.
You can earn up to four work credits per year. In 2020, one work credit equaled $1,410 in wages. This amount changes per year.
Most people need at least 40 work credits to qualify for benefits. You also must have earned 20 of the credits within the ten years before your disability.
SSA’s Definition of Disability
You will also need to meet the SSA’s definition of a disability. That means:
- You cannot do work that you did before.
- You cannot do other forms of work.
- Your disability has lasted (or will last) for a year or more.
You will need to prove your disability through medical records and other documents
Unfortunately, even those who qualify for a total disability face denials. If the SSA denied your claim, it doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t qualify. Talk to a Social Security Disability lawyer for help today.
How Much Is Your First SSDI Check?
Your first SSDI check will depend on several factors. First, it will depend on how much you’ve paid into Social Security through your wages or self-employment income. You might also receive a lump sum payment for back pay. If you have dependents receiving benefits, that will affect your monthly payments, too.
When the SSA approves your claim, it will let you know:
- When you’ll get your first SSDI benefits
- How much your monthly payments will be
Can You Get Back Pay from the SSA?
Most people receive back payments after the SSA approves them for benefits. Your back pay depends on your established onset date (EOD). This is the date when the SSA determines you became disabled. Five months after the EOD is your date of entitlement, which is the date when you are entitled to get monthly benefits.
You should receive back payments for the time between your date of entitlement and your date of approval. It can take months or years for the SSA to approve an SSDI claim. Your back payments could be thousands of dollars.
The SSA usually pays your SSDI benefits through direct deposit rather than a paper check. Your first check will typically be the same monthly payment you’ll continue to receive. However, it’s possible for you to receive back payments at the same time.
How Far Back Will SSDI Pay?
After applying for SSDI, you might wait weeks or months to start receiving benefits. Thankfully, the SSA can pay for some of the time you wait. SSDI might pay as far back as 12 months from when you apply for benefits.
There are a few factors that affect how far back SSDI might pay you:
- Waiting period: There is a five-month waiting period for SSDI benefits. You cannot get benefits sooner than your sixth full month of disability.
- Established onset date (EOD): Your EOD is the date your disability started, which you will need to know to determine your back payments. The SSA will use details from your application, such as medical history and last work date, to determine your EOD.
- Types of back payments: There are two ways the SSA pays you for missed benefits: either for the time between your EOD and when you apply for benefits or for the time between when you apply and when the SSA approves you for benefits. You can get payments for these times, minus the waiting period.
Unfortunately, delays for SSDI benefits are common. If you had to wait to get your payments, you are eligible for back payments. Contact an SSDI lawyer if you need help calculating what the SSA owes you.
How Is SSDI Calculated?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a complicated formula to calculate your SSDI benefits. Your monthly payments will depend on how much you’ve paid into Social Security. To earn work credits, you must work in jobs covered under Social Security.
When calculating your benefits, the SSA will determine your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME). It starts with your average Social Security-covered income during the time you were working. The SSA then uses your AIME to calculate your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA).
The PIA is the sum of three different percentages from your AIME. For 2020, your PIA would be these three percentages added together:
- 90% of the first $960 of your AIME
- 32% of your AIME between $960 and $5,785
- 15% of your AIME over $5,785
After adding up all percentages, the SSA will round to the nearest 10 cents. The SSA calculates your monthly benefit from the sum.
What Is the Average SSDI Payout?
The average SSDI benefit as of 2020 was $1,258 per month. Most approved applicants will receive between $800 and $1,800 per month, depending on their work credits.
Each person will have a unique SSDI benefit amount. If you need help calculating yours, sign in to your Social Security account or call an SSDI attorney.
How Can I Increase My SSDI?
Most of the time, your SSDI benefits depend on how much you’ve paid into Social Security through your wages. However, there are a few conditions that might lead to increased SSDI benefits. Certain life changes can make you eligible for higher benefits.
You might be able to receive additional SSDI benefits if:
- A spouse or ex-spouse who paid into Social Security has died
- You’ve reached retirement age
- An adult child who paid into Social Security has died
- You are at least 62 years old and were married to an ex-spouse for at least 10 years
- You are caring for a child who was disabled before age 22 or is below age 16
- You have served in the U.S. military and are receiving SSDI or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Your income or financial resources have decreased (meaning you could be eligible for SSI)
You can find out your benefit options through the SSA’s Benefits Eligibility Screening Tool (BEST). A questionnaire on the website will let you know what you’re eligible to receive. We also recommend contacting a Social Security Disability lawyer if you might qualify for more SSDI. Your lawyer can help you with each step of your case.
How Can I Appeal an SSDI Decision?
If the SSA has denied your SSDI application, you have options. You can request an appeal in a few different stages. You’ll need to request your appeal in writing within 60 days of getting the decision. You can send the request online through the SSA website. If medical reasons were involved with your denial, you can also download Form SSA-561.
There are four main levels when appealing an SSDI decision:
- Request for reconsideration
- The administrative law judge hearing
- Appeals Council review
- Federal Court review
When you get your letter from the SSA, it will explain how you can appeal. Do not assume that you don’t qualify for benefits just because you get a denial. Many applicants simply need to appeal and provide additional evidence.
What Happens After I Request a Reconsideration?
When you request a reconsideration, a new person will look over your claim. It will be someone who had nothing to do with the previous decision. If you don’t agree with that person’s decision, you can request a hearing. An administrative law judge will hear your case.
If you disagree with the judge’s decision, you can request an Appeals Council review. The Council will look at every request, but they can deny any if they think the original decision was correct. If you still get denied, you can file a lawsuit in federal court.
How Long does It Take to Start Receiving SSDI?
If you’re disabled and cannot work, you can apply for SSDI benefits. However, you won’t be able to get your benefits right away. Your application will need time to process, plus some factors can slow everything down.
In general, it typically takes about three to five months to get a decision after you apply. Sometimes, a person can start receiving SSDI sooner or much later. It depends on each individual case and factors like:
- The waiting period: SSDI has a five-month waiting period, and you cannot receive benefits for the first five months of your disability. Depending on when you apply for SSDI, you might have to wait a few months, even after approval, to get your first payment.
- Your established onset date (EOD): Your EOD is the date your disability began, so when the SSA looks at your case, they will determine your EOD. The waiting period starts with your EOD, so if you believe the date on your case is wrong, contact an SSDI lawyer.
- Back payments: There is often time between the end of your waiting period and SSDI approval. You can receive back payments for the time you should have received benefits, and so the SSA will send this as a lump-sum separate from your monthly payments.
Some factors can delay your benefits. If the SSA denies your claim, you will wait longer to get approval. You’ll need to go through the appeal process, and a lack of medical records can delay when the SSA looks at your application.
It’s best to work with an SSDI lawyer when applying for benefits. They can let you know how soon you could receive Social Security benefits.
What Does an SSDI Lawyer Do?
There are many things an SSDI lawyer can do for you. They will have a thorough understanding of Social Security and what the SSA needs to approve a claim. Your lawyer can help with every step, from application to filing a lawsuit.
Some of the main things an SSDI lawyer does include:
- Reviewing your case, including carefully looking over the information about your condition. If the SSA denied your claim, your lawyer can determine why and create a plan for the appeal.
- Developing a theory about how you meet disability guidelines: Your lawyer will use one of three theories to argue that you qualify for benefits. The story they use will depend on your situation and how your condition limits you.
- Filling in application gaps if your information is incomplete. Many SSDI applications are denied because there is not enough supporting evidence in the claim.
- Gathering medical evidence to prove your disabling condition. You might need additional records showing that you are unable to perform basic types of work. Your lawyer can help you get copies of any evidence you need.
- Representing you during an appeal: Many people get a denial when they apply for SSDI — even if they qualify. Your lawyer can help you with the appeal process, which includes different levels of hearings.
Although an SSDI lawyer is not a requirement, we highly recommend working with one. An experienced lawyer gives you the best chance of approval.
Do I Need an SSDI Attorney?
There is no requirement to have an SSDI lawyer when you file your claim. However, we recommend at least speaking with one. Having a lawyer on your side can make a huge difference to your case outcome.
SSDI lawyers understand the Social Security process. They also know what the Social Security Administration (SSA) is looking for when they evaluate an application. It’s best to get approval sooner rather than later. If you get denied benefits, it will just delay how long you’ll have to wait.
An SSDI lawyer can help you by:
- Offering knowledge about Social Security and its processes
- Compiling the right documentation for your SSDI claim
- Fixing any missing information in your application
- Assisting you with the appeal process after a claim denial
A lawyer can help you with each stage of an SSDI case. Even before you file your application, you can contact an SSDI attorney for help building your claim. There is also no “wrong” time to reach out to a lawyer. If you are simply thinking about applying, an attorney can let you know your chances of approval.
How Can I Find an SSDI Lawyer?
There are some important questions to ask when finding the right SSDI lawyer for you. You will need an attorney who fits your needs and has the right experience. When considering a lawyer, here are some questions to ask:
- How do the lawyer and their staff treat me?
- Is the lawyer honest in their assessment of my claim?
- How will the lawyer support my case?
- Do they have enough experience with Social Security cases?
- Do they have experience with medical conditions like mine?
- What is the lawyer’s approval rate for disability claims?
- Is the lawyer comfortable providing testimonials?
- Do I need help with an SSDI case for a child?
- Will the lawyer provide a free consultation?
SSDI lawyers are often busy with several cases at once. However, your lawyer should still be attentive when talking to you about your case. Even if they limit the consultation time, they should listen carefully to your needs.
Talk to a Social Security Disability Attorney for FREE Today
The Social Security Disability lawyers at John Foy & Associates have over 20 years of experience. Our attorneys will listen with compassion to your situation. We’ll discuss how we can help your case.
We do not collect a fee unless we win your case. To get a FREE, no-risk consultation, call us or reach out online through one of our contact forms.