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How can I increase my SSDI and SSI payment?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is offered by the Federal Government to workers who have a severe health condition that is expected to last for at least 12 continuous months and that does not allow the employee to work.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is wage assistance payments offered to the disabled, blind and aged (65 years and older) who are unable to work for at least 12 continuous months, and who have limited income and resources.
Program requirements vary for each program, including the methods used to determine an applicant’s monthly benefit and what can be done to increase and decrease the benefit payment each month.
Determining Your Payment for Social Security Disability Insurance
Social Security Disability Insurance payments are calculated based on several factors including the amount of income generated by the claimant, referred to as covered earnings, and the amount that the claimant has paid in taxes on this income.
First, the Social Security Administration (SSA) calculates what they call the average indexed monthly earnings (AIME), which is the average covered earnings of the claimant over a specific number of years, and then they apply a complex formula to this amount to generate another number called the primary insurance amount (PIA). The PIA is then used to calculate the claimant’s benefit payment.
Claimants who have questions about the amount that they are eligible to receive or how the information is calculated can contact the SSA. Claimants who are not currently receiving benefits should receive a paper statement from the SSA every five years with information regarding both their estimated Social Security retirement benefit and their estimated disability benefits. Claimants can also review their benefit information by visiting www.ssa.gov/mystatement.
Can I increase my SSDI benefit payment?
Social Security Disability Insurance is paid to claimants who are 100% disabled. When the SSA determines that a claimant is completely disabled, they will award them 100% of the disability benefits that they are entitled to receive. This method of payment differs from other disability programs, such as veterans’ disability benefits or workers’ compensation benefits, which are calculated based on the injured party’s disability rating.
So, unlike a veteran who is partially injured and could have their disability payment readjusted if they are injured a second time and become more disabled, an SSDI recipient will not be eligible to have their SSDI payment increased, even if their disability becomes more severe in the future.
Workers can, however, increase their estimated disability payment before they are awarded benefits by increasing their income, thus raising their average covered earnings and the amount of taxes paid into the Social Security Trust Fund.
Increasing Supplemental Security Income Benefits
As mentioned above, Supplemental Security Income benefits are paid to the disabled, blind and aged with limited income and resources. The Federal Government determines the maximum amount paid for SSI benefits. In 2016, the rate, referred to as the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR), is $733 per individual and $1,100 for couples.
Although this is the maximum paid by the Federal Government for SSI benefits, some states also add a state supplemental payment, which allows some SSI recipients living in those states to receive a monthly SSI payment, which is more than the FBR.
SSI claimants who are currently receiving the maximum SSI payment amount, however, are not eligible to receive more money unless the SSA decides to increase their payments through a cost of living adjustment (COLA). Although this is done periodically, it is not guaranteed.
What can reduce my SSI payment?
Another consideration for Supplemental Security Income recipients is whether or not they are receiving certain payments or help that is reducing their benefit payment, making it less than the maximum Federal Benefit Rate.
For example, some claimants are not receiving the maximum FBR because they are working and earning countable income, which is subtracted from the maximum Federal Benefit Rate, thus lowering their monthly payment amount. Other claimants may also be receiving other types of income or in-kind income (i.e. food or shelter), which is reducing their benefit payment each month.
What can reduce my SSDI payment?
As mentioned above, claimants who are awarded SSDI benefits will receive 100% of the benefits that they are entitled to receive. There are, however, certain other Federal benefits that can reduce SSDI payments. For example, workers who receive workers’ compensation payments may have their SSDI benefits reduced.
Unlike Supplemental Security Income, however, Social Security Disability Insurance recipients will not be penalized if their spouse provides income to the household or if they are receiving in-kind income or shelter from another person.
SSDI recipients who return to work for too many months and make too much money, however, can jeopardize their right to SSDI. For this reason, it’s important to talk to the SSA before returning to work.