You are sick or injured, and it’s a long-term condition. You cannot do the type of work you did before, and you cannot make the switch to other types of work. It is a great burden to carry, and it can be frightening on many levels, particularly financially. How will you take care of yourself? Your family? How will you pay the bills, keep your home, or put money aside for emergencies?
These questions, and more, consume people with disabilities. Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits are intended to help alleviate the worry and financial strain. It’s important to get the most from these payments. But how?
Advice from Top SSD Benefits Lawyers
The first step to maximizing your benefits is to learn more about Social Security Disability coverage. This is a taxpayer-funded program to assist people who are sick or injured and unable to work because of their condition.
You’ve probably noticed that a chunk of each paycheck is deducted for Social Security. To qualify for disability benefits, you have to meet the medical requirements:
- Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months or to result in death.
- You are unable to do the work that you did previously.
- You are unable to adjust to other work as a result of your condition.
There are other requirements as well:
- You must have paid into the Social Security program in the past 5 out of 10 years.
- You must have become disabled within 5 years of the last time you paid Social Security taxes.
It gets a bit complicated from here. As mentioned, you need to have worked both recently enough and long enough to qualify for benefits. The Social Security Administration also uses a “work credit” system to help determine eligibility.
In 2018, for every $1320 you earn in wages or self-employment income, you earn one credit. You can earn up to four credits per year. Usually, you’ll need to have 40 credits to qualify for benefits, and 20 of them need to be earned in the last 10 years (ending with the year you become disabled). If you are younger, you may be able to qualify even if you have less than 40 credits.
Not sure if you meet the criteria? Contact a South Florida attorney specializing in Social Security Disability benefits. An SSD benefits lawyer can help you make the call and apply for the benefits to which you are entitled.
Making the Most of Your Social Security Disability Benefits
The amount of disability benefits you qualify for depends on your previous earnings; typically, monthly payments are between $700 and $1700 (the average that people receive is $1200). There is a cap of $2639 per month.
What steps can you take to ensure you get the most out of your benefits?
- If you are self-employed, do not neglect to take out your Social Security taxes when you file your income taxes. This may well put you in a bind if you end up needing benefits later on.
- Do not hold off on applying for disability benefits. Some people take a “wait and see” approach; maybe they’ll get better. Maybe their injury or illness is not that serious. But if you have a condition that renders you unable to work, apply immediately.
- Know that under the law, you can work and receive wage/self-employment income while getting disability benefits – within limits. To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, your condition must prevent you from engaging in “substantial gainful activity.” But you can work as long as your income does not exceed the amounts set by the SSA. For 2018, that is $1180 per month for a non-blind person and $1970 for a blind person. If you are able, a part-time job can help you make your disability payments go much further. There are time limits on this (typically 36 months, after your 9 month trial period), so be sure to ask your SSD benefits lawyer to make sure you understand the ins and outs.
- The Social Security Administration has programs designed to help disabled folks work (if they are able). The Ticket to Work program, for example, helps people with vocational rehabilitation, job training, job referrals, and more. You can also take advantage of a nine-month trial period, during which you can see if returning to work is possible.
- Know what other benefits you can receive. From medical insurance to help with items or services that enable you to work, you may be eligible for different programs and assistance. It is worth looking into and asking an SSD benefits lawyer for assistance.
- Consult with an experienced SSD benefits lawyer. Applying for, and receiving, the benefits you need can be a complex process. And, keep in mind, that most people are denied at first. This does not mean you should give up; it means that you should speak to an expert so you can take some of the financial burdens from your shoulders.
Dealing with a disability and being unable to work is a clear and constant strain. Not only on your finances (though they play a significant role) but also on your mental and emotional well-being. Talk to an SSD benefits lawyer at the LaBovick Law Group. Our attorneys have decades of experience in fighting for your rights; we will help ensure you receive the Social Security Disability benefits to which you are entitled – and that you make the most of them.