When a medical condition causes a disability that prevents you from continuing to work and earn a living, an application to Social Security for disability benefits may offer the financial lifeline you need to support yourself and your family. If you discover that your medical condition and disability have gotten worse or that the monthly payments leave you unable to pay all your expenses, continue reading to learn about increasing Social Security disability payments.
Factors Affecting the Amount You Receive Monthly Through SSDI
The fact that your medical condition or the disability it causes gets worse does not affect the amount you receive each month in disability benefits. You would not be eligible to receive benefits unless the Social Security Administration determined from your medical records that you were unable to engage in any type of work because of a disability that was expected to last for at least 12 continuous months or cause your death.
Because you had to be fully disabled to qualify in the first place, a worsening of your condition will not affect the payments you receive. You may have heard that the SSA engages in a periodic review process of your medical condition. The purpose of the review is to determine if an improvement in your health disqualifies you from receiving benefits.
The review process used by SSA to determine if you are eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits looks at your work history and your covered earnings. Covered earnings represent the wages you receive that are subject to Social Security taxes.
You earn work credits based upon the length of time that you were employed at jobs with covered earnings. The number of work credits you need to qualify for Social Security disability insurance varies based upon how old you are when you become disabled. For example, a 50-year-old applicant for SSD would near more work credits to qualify for benefits than would someone who is only 25 years old and applying for benefits.
SSA uses a formula to arrive at the amount of the monthly payments you receive for SSD. The formula uses an average of your covered earnings over your working lifetime up to the date of the onset of the disability. While Social Security can make a mistake and not include all your covered earnings when calculating your benefits, it can be easily discovered and corrected simply by requesting a review of your benefit payment for accuracy and recalculation to include any errors that may have been made.
Cost-of-living Increases to Your Monthly Payment
The amount you receive from SSD each month may change each year depending upon economic conditions in the country. Annual adjustments to payments to keep pace with the cost of living may change what you receive.
Increasing your monthly payments by working
If you decide to try to return to work to supplement what you receive from SSD, you need to be aware that the amount you earn each month could show that you no longer qualify for benefits. The ability to engage in “substantial gainful activity” is one of the criteria used to evaluate whether you are disabled.
Earning more than $1,310 a month from employment in 2021 shows that you are capable of substantial gainful activity and not disabled. If your disability is based upon being blind, the earnings level for 2021 is $2190 a month.
Social Security encourages people to attempt a return to work by offering a trial work period. If you notify SSD that you wish to return to work, you may do so without reducing your monthly benefits even if your earnings exceed the substantial gainful activity amounts.
The initial trial work period is nine months of employment or self-employment. The nine months must be completed within 60 months and do not have to be consecutive. You have the option to extend the trial work period for another 36 months, but you cannot have earnings above the monthly substantial gainful activity limits without jeopardizing your benefits.
Applying for benefits under the SSI program
The Social Security disability insurance program is not the only one offering monthly payments to people unable to work because of a disability. Supplemental Security Income may be available if you are blind or otherwise disabled or 65 years of age or older.
You need not have a work history or paid Social Security taxes to qualify for SSI, but there are severe income and financial resource limits. As an example, the value of the assets owned by a married couple, excluding their primary residence and the family car, cannot exceed $3,000. The asset limit for a single person is only $2,000.
Although concurrently receiving SSI and SSDI benefits is allowed, the increase in monthly income will not be significant. Social Security counts the payments you receive each month from SSDI, except for the first $20, as income, which reduces the amount of SSI payments.
Learn More from a Disability Advocate
Attempting to navigate through the complex maze of rules, regulations, and procedures to obtain the Social Security disability benefits can be a challenge, but a disability advocate from London Eligibility can help. Whether you are filing an initial application for benefits, appealing an adverse decision, or have questions about your benefits, let the skilled advocates at London Eligibility put their knowledge and skills to work for you.