1. When SSD Payments Start
Your payments may start in the sixth month after your disability begins. This is why it is so important to report your condition and apply for benefits as soon as possible after you know you can no longer work. The law requires a five-month waiting period before an applicant receives the first check. You may be entitled to back payments of SSD benefits if your claim requires an appeals process.
2. When SSD Payments Are Taxable
Only about one-third of all SSD benefit recipients pay taxes while receiving disability payments. However, if your total income for the year exceeds $25,000, you may be required to pay taxes on the amount of income earned exceeding $25,000. If you are married and you and your spouse’s income exceeds $32,000 per year, you may have to pay some taxes on the amount above $32,000.
3. How Back Payments Are Calculated
Back payments, or retroactive payments, are calculated using three main factors. First, your date of application is usually the date from which your retroactive payments will be calculated. In fact, some applicants may receive up to one year of retroactive payments prior to their application date if they qualify. You may also qualify back to your protective filing date if you notified the Social Security Administration (SSA) of your disability prior to your application filing date. Second, your established onset date (EOD) is calculated by your disability examiner as part of the application process. Third, the five-month waiting period is factored in to determine the amount of retroactive payments you will receive. Five months of benefits are removed from your total lump-sum retroactive payment. If you are approved for disability benefits, the SSA will take the total amount of time from your EOD and your filing date, subtract five months, and make payments for the remaining retroactive months.
4. You Automatically Qualify to Receive Medicare Part A Benefits
After you have received disability benefits for 24 months, you automatically qualify for Medicare Part A benefits. In fact, the hospital coverage is provided at no cost to you. Medicare hospital coverage is not the same as medical healthcare benefits. Medicare part B is medical insurance coverage. You are required to pay a premium each month for Part B.
5. Annual Cost of Living Increases
Each year, if the annual cost of living has gone up, your benefit amount will also go up by that same percentage. If the cost of living has risen by 3 percent, then your benefits will increase by 3 percent. However, if the cost of living goes down, you do not automatically receive a decrease. In rare circumstances, the government may withhold a cost-of-living increase due to budget constraints. The Social Security Administration determines the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) based on a formula in the Social Security Act. The reason for the annual COLA is to help benefits keep up with inflation, and was introduced as a part of legislation enacted in 1973.
6. Disability Benefits Convert to Retirement Benefits
If you are receiving disability payments when you reach full retirement age, your disability benefit payments automatically convert to retirement benefits, but the amount you receive will not change. In fact, this is actually an advantage for many individuals receiving disability benefits, as the amount of disability benefits is usually higher than what their retirement benefits would have been.
7. You Can Work and Still Keep Your Disability Benefits
In 2015, an individual receiving SSD benefits can earn up to $780 per month in outside income, and still not lose any part of their disability payments. If you earn up to $1,090 per month, you can do so for 36 months before you lose any part of your benefits. If a recipient is blind, they can earn up to $1,820 per month for 36 months before having their benefits reduced. If you do go back to work and you require special transportation or other expenses to help you adapt, those expenses could be deducted from what you earn. The reason for the work incentive program is to offer recipients an opportunity to test the waters and try and get back into the workforce.
8. If You Do Go Back to Work and Then Can’t Continue Working, You Don’t Have to Reapply for Disability Benefits
If you attempt a return to work but are unable to continue due to your disability, you do not have to reapply for benefits. This is true as long as you notify the SSA prior to five years after your benefits stopped. This is an incentive to take the fear out of attempting to get back into the workforce in some capacity. The knowledge that a recipient won’t have to go through the entire process of proving they are disabled again is extremely helpful in allowing them to seek some form of employment.
If you are in the Dallas area and need help with applying for SSD benefits, or have been denied benefits and need help filing an appeal, please contact an experienced SSD benefits lawyer who can help you seek the full disability payments you deserve.