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What You Need To Know When You Get Social Security Disability Benefits

Published on June 10th, 2021

Ask a group of adults anywhere in the United States to tell you the first thing that comes to mind when they hear “Social Security.” Do not be surprised if the majority, if not all, of them, respond with “retirement.” Although the Social Security Administration has become synonymous with retirement benefits, it has two programs that provide benefits to people unable to work and earn a living because of being disabled. One of those programs, Supplemental Security Income, even provides monthly payments to children, as well as to adults, who are disabled or blind.

The Social Security Administration offers proof that it does more than help people when they reach retirement age. SSA reports that men and women have a 25% probability of becoming disabled before reaching retirement age, which makes it all the more important to take a look at what you need to know when you get Social Security disability benefits. To keep things simple, the focus of this article will be on benefits received through the Social Security Disability Insurance program designed for workers who become disabled and assume that your application for benefits has been approved.

When Do Benefit Payments Begin?

Disability insurance payments do not start until the sixth month after you become disabled. An exception is made for individuals who are disabled as a result of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly referred to as ALS.

The day of the month that you receive your monthly payment is determined by your date of birth. Payment may come by one of the following three methods:

  • Mailed check: Unless you were approved for SSD benefits before May 1, 2011, do not expect to receive a check in the mailbox. Social Security uses the check method of payment only for benefit recipients who have not opted for other methods and were approved to receive disability benefits before May 1, 2011.
  • Direct deposit: Monthly payments electronically deposited to your bank is the default method of payment now used by Social Security.
  • Debit card: If you do not have a bank account, your only option to get Social Security disability benefits is to have them deposited to a debit card under the Direct Express card program. It is free to set up through the U.S. Treasury or Social Security.

If you qualify for payments by check, you should consider switching to one of the more secure electronic options. Electronic payment avoids the inconvenience of a lost or stolen check and eliminates the need to carry cash.

How Much Is The Monthly SSD Benefit?

The amount you receive through SSDI is based on the average lifetime earnings you had before the onset of your disability. This is different from what happens when someone who is disabled receives benefits through the Supplemental Security Income program. Maximum monthly SSI payments in 2021 under the SSI program are $794 for an individual and $1,191 for a couple.

Your monthly payment from Social Security Disability insurance may increase each year. Annual cost-of-living adjustments are made to SSD payments in January.

What Happens When You Reach Full Retirement Age?

Monthly SSD payments through SSDI automatically convert to Social Security retirement when you reach the age to retire with full benefits, which is determined by the year in which you were born. Do not confuse full retirement with early retirement.

You should speak with a disability attorney at NY Disability before applying for early retirement. Filing at 62 years of age for early retirement and SSDI may reduce the amount you receive each month in disability benefits.

Individuals who take early retirement benefits at 62 receive less each month than had they waited until full retirement age. If you apply for early retirement to provide benefits while waiting for approval of an application for SSD, keep in mind that when your SSDI converts to retirement benefits at full retirement, it does so at a less than you would have gotten by not retiring early.

Working While Collecting Social Security Disability Benefits

You must have a disability that prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. One measure of engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA) is the amount you earn each month from working.

How much you can earn each month depends on the medical condition causing you to be disabled. Someone who is statutorily blind and receiving SSD may not earn more than $2,190 a month. Individuals disabled due to medical conditions other than blindness may earn up to $1,310.

If you want to work while you get Social Security disability benefits, speak with a disability lawyer at NY Disability to learn more about how to do so without jeopardizing your benefits. For example, Social Security allows you to have earnings exceeding SGA amounts while continuing to collect SSD payments through a trial work period.

Rely On An Experienced SSD Attorney

A Social Security disability attorney at NY Disability helps protect your right to SSD benefits with outstanding representation and superior knowledge of Social Security rules and procedures. Whether filing an initial claim for benefits, appealing a denial or in need of answers to questions, the lawyers at NY Disability are there when you need them.


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