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Social Security Disability - What Amount of Benefits Will You Receive?

September 13, 2019

The transition from work to disability can be difficult, especially when you don't know how your income will be affected. Knowing the amount of benefits you can expect to receive from Social Security can help in that planning stage.

 

The Social Security Administration offers two types of benefit programs for individuals with disabilities. These programs are nationwide, so regardless of whether you are in Abilene, Texas - where I practice - or somewhere else, the rules and procedures are essentially the same. The first program is the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, and the second is the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Although the standards for qualifying as a disabled person are essentially identical in both programs, there is a usually a substantial difference in the amount of benefits that a disabled individual will receive.

 

The SSI program is designed to provide basic financial assistance to persons with disabilities, regardless of age. To qualify for it, you must have very limited income and resources. Generally speaking, SSI recipients receive about $733 per month (for individuals) or $1,100 per month (for married couples). Some states will add a supplemental payment to this. However, the payment can be reduced based on other sources of income, such as workers' compensation or money given by friends and family. If your income is greater than the amount you are entitled to receive under the program, you don't receive anything. Additionally, you cannot have more than $2000 in assets ($3000 for couples). This includes cash, bank accounts, personal property, or anything else that could be converted to cash.

 

SSDI, on the other hand, is based on the disabled individual's employment history. To qualify, you must meet Social Security's definition of disability and have sufficient "work credits" to receive benefits. The amount of benefits you receive depends on what you have paid into the system, but the maximum amount could be as high as $2,861 per month. You can determine the exact amount you would receive by requesting a statement from the Social Security Administration.

 

The system for determining whether you have sufficient work credits (or "quarters") is based in part on the age of the disabled individual. If the disabled individual is over 31, then he or she will need a total of 40 work credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years. Younger workers may be able to qualify based on less credits.

 

A "credit" is given every time a worker receives a minimum amount of income in a calendar quarter. This minimum amount is fairly low (in 2019, it is $1,360), so almost any full-time job is going to be sufficient to generate a credit. A good rule of thumb is that if a disabled individual has worked full time for at least ten years of his or her life, and at least five out of the last ten years, then he/she should be able to qualify for SSDI.

 

In short, the benefit that you receive can vary from $100 or less to $2,861 per month, depending on which program you can qualify for, and the amount of money you have paid in to the system. By requesting a statement from SSA (at the link described above), you can probably get a better feel for how much you will receive.

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