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  • Christopher Le

Collecting Social Security Disability Payments After Approval

The Social Security Disability process can be long and daunting. It can take several months to years before you get approved. If you are approved, you will receive an award notice. The award notice that you will receive will tell you how much your monthly benefit will be, how much your back pay will be, and when you will be eligible to begin receiving the monthly payments.

When Your Benefits Should Be Paid

Social Security makes payments in arrears, which means that when you receive a check, it is for the previous month. So if you receive an award letter that states that your first check will be issued in March, it is likely a check for the month of February. Your payment date depends on whether you receive SSI or SSDI. SSDI is based on your past work history while SSI is a needs based program.

Keep in mind that for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits(SSDI), there is a five-month waiting period from the date that Social Security determines your disability began (your onset date) to when you are actually entitled to disability payments. For example, if SSA found you disabled on May 1st, the soonest you would receive a monthly check would be November, because you would not be eligible for a benefit until October. But keep in mind that by the time you file your claim and the time SSA makes their determination and approves you, those 5 months may have already passed so there likely wont be a period where you are actually having to wait a full 5 months for benefits. So lets take the previous example, and lets say you filed your claim on May 1st and you also claimed you became disabled as of that date, assuming it takes 5 months to receive an approval from SSA, now you are in the month of November, that 5 month waiting period has already gone by and you can now receive your monthly benefits starting November.

What Will Be the Amount of My Benefit

If you are approved for SSDI, the amount of your disability check will be based on the amount of income you earned prior to your disability and how much you worked in recent years. Its based on how much you paid into the SSA system over the years. If you are a high wage earner and paid more into SSA over the past years, you will receive more than others who did not pay as much into the SSA system.

On the other hand, if you are approved for SSI, the amount you receive depends on the state you live in, your living arrangements, and your income. It is a needs based program.

Direct Deposit Is Recommended

The quickest way to receive your Social Security Disability checks is to set up direct deposit. It is a lot more efficient than sitting and waiting for the mail man to come drop off a hard check at your doorstep. In fact, those who applied for disability after May 1, 2011 are required to have direct deposit, or direct express. Every year you will receive a statement from SSA that shows the amount of benefit you were paid during the previous year.

Social Security Disability Back Award

If you are approved, not only will you receive monthly disability benefits but you will also receive a back award from the time your disability began. The process of being approved for disability is a long one. For SSDI, you could receive payments for up to 12 months before your application date (taking into account the five-month waiting period). So lets say you alleged you became disabled on January 1, 2017 and after many appeals a Judge approved your disability claim 17 months later on June 1, 2019. In this case, you would only receive back pay for 12 months and not the 17 months because keep in mind that 5 month waiting period. For SSI, you can only receive back pay starting from the month you filed after you filed your applicaiton and not any time prior to that.

Dependents Benefits (Auxillary Benefits)

If you are awarded SSDI (Not SSI), you may have eligible dependents who can receive benefits as well. This is what we call Auxillary benefits and could increase your monthyl benefits by a couple hundred dollars. Benefits are available to certain dependent family members of SSDI recipients only, including minor children, disabled children, older spouses, ex-spouses, and even dependent parents.

Overpayments from Social Security

If Social Security determines that you have been accidentally overpaid disability benefits, they will require you to refund the overpayment, in most cases. This can be complicated if you spent all the back pay you received. In that case, SSA may suspend your benefits or may take a percentage out of every check issued to you to recoup the overpayment.

Are There Taxes on Social Security Disability Benefits

Yes it is possible you have to pay taxes depending ont he amount of your income or combined income if you are married. Additionally, up to 85% of your Social Security disability could be taxed.

If you and your spouse have a combined income of more than $44,000 and file jointly, you will likely pay taxes on 85% of your disability benefits.If you and your spouse have a combined income between $32,000 and $44,000, you will likely pay taxes on 50% of your disability benefits.If you file as an individual, you will pay taxes on 85% of your benefits if your income is more than $34,000 and will pay taxes on 50% of your benefits if your income is between $25,000 and $34,000.

How Long Will My Benefits Last?

In most cases your benefits could last forever as long as you are permanently disabled and your condition does not get any better. If you do go back to work, SSA may take your benefits away if they see that you are able to maintain a full time position. Social Security may periodically re-evaluate your medical condition by what is called a continuing disability review (CDR). CDR's dont have a set date and are done randomly. It occurs more so in cases where the individual receiving disability is younger. If you have to undergo a CDR and it is found that you are no longer treating or maybe your condition has improved, its possible your benefits may be suspended. In addition, if you are receving SSI benefits, SSA may review whether you are earning too much income during periodic redeterminations. Depending on your resources and income, your SSI benefits could be suspended as well.Keep in mind that SSA also looks at your spouses income in determining if you are eligible for SSI benefits. So if your spouse finds a new job earning double the amount of money they were earning at the time you were receiving SSI benefits, this could impact your ability to continue to receive SSI benefits. Please consult with a lawyer if you have any questions. We would be glad to help!

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