Social Security – Personal Area of Interest

ביטוח לאומי אזור אישי collects more in taxes and other income each year than it pays out in benefits. This surplus is invested in interest earning investments.

Many families need the security Social Security provides. The program helps reduce poverty rates among older adults of color, who typically have lower career earnings and less opportunity to save in private retirement plans.

SSI/SSDI Benefits

If you have been disabled for a long time and don’t earn enough credits under Social Security’s work definition, SSI may be available. Unlike SSDI, which is based on your own work history, SSI is based solely on financial need and is funded through general tax dollars. As a result, you must have little or no assets and income in order to qualify for SSI.

If the SSA decides that you have disability, they will calculate how much your monthly benefit will be. They will use up to 35 years of your indexed earnings and average them out to get your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME). This is the number that they will base their final determination on.

The SSA will then apply a formula to your AIME to come up with what they call your primary insurance amount (PIA). Your PIA is the base figure that they use to determine how much your monthly benefits will be.

Many people incorrectly assume that once they reach FRA their checks will increase automatically. While it is true that your SSDI payments will increase each year to keep up with inflation, it is important to understand that your PIA is the starting point for your benefits. The SSA will take into account your work activity, and other disability payments such as workers’ compensation settlements, to determine the level of your PIA.

SSI/SSDI Application

If you are applying for disability benefits, it can take months to years to get a decision. Providing the right medical information with your application and interview is key to speeding up this process. Our attorneys have over 30 years of combined experience handling disability cases and know not only what information the SSA examiners are looking for, but also how to present that information in an effective manner. The faster and easier it is for the SSA to evaluate your claim, the sooner you will receive a decision.

During the disability process, the local SSA office is responsible for verifying non-medical eligibility criteria such as age, employment and Social Security coverage. Once these eligibility requirements are verified, the case will be sent to the Disability Determination Bureau (DDB) for evaluation of your disability.

The initial review of your SSI or SSDI claim can take anywhere from three to five months. During this time, your SOAR advocate should meet with the applicant weekly using the Medical Summary Report (MSR) Interview Guide. It is important to have all the necessary medical and mental health records available to present at each meeting.

If your claim is not approved at the initial level, you will need to request reconsideration. You will need to submit additional evidence, including new medical and other records, as well as an updated IWP and a new plan of work. If you are still not successful at the reconsideration level, you will need to file an appeal.

SSI/SSDI Benefit Estimates

If you qualify for SSDI, the benefits depend on your lifetime average earnings. The SSA calculates your average indexed monthly earnings, or AIME, by looking at up to 35 of the years in which you earned the most. Then they index those years to account for general wage increases. Once they have your AIME, they use three fixed percentages to calculate your primary insurance amount.

You may have other types of income that decrease your SSDI check, like workers’ compensation and pensions from work on which you didn’t pay Social Security taxes. If you have a mySocialSecurity account, you can go over your earnings history and find out more about what the SSA uses to determine your benefits. You can also see any errors in your records and correct them, which could boost your benefits.

There is a 5-month waiting period for SSDI benefits, but qualifying individuals with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, can skip the wait and start receiving benefits in their sixth month of disability. The SSA also pays supplemental income to those who are receiving SSI. These payments are based on financial and medical eligibility. They may include cash, stocks, bonds and other assets and must exclude certain kinds of income, including workers’ compensation, income from friends or relatives and rent or utilities.

SSI/SSDI Letters

When an SSI/SSDI applicant receives a benefits letter, it will usually be sent to the address linked to their social security number. It will contain information on their current or future benefits, including the date when they should expect to start receiving monthly disability payments, and if any back pay is due, how that was calculated. The award letter may also list their monthly payment amount and how it will be delivered (direct deposit into a bank account, direct express debit card, or to an ETS facility).

It is common for there to be delays between when the decision is made and when you receive the letter. This is especially true if you have not been found disabled and the case has not yet been sent to DDS for a medical determination. It is important to follow up with your SSA representative on the status of your claim to make sure that they have everything needed to forward your case to DDS as soon as possible.

SSA will re-evaluate your claim every two to three years to determine whether you still meet their definition of disability and can continue to receive benefits. These re-evaluations are not only looking to see whether your condition has improved to the point where you can return to work, but they are also checking to see if your disability onset date has changed and if any other changes in the law have occurred that could impact your eligibility.

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