The Social Security Disability program was created to provide financial benefits to those who are unable to work due to a disabling condition. One of the qualifying factors is financial-based and this often gives people in Illinois the impression that they won’t be able to receive disability benefits because of the amount of money they made before they became disabled.
SSD and income
In order to qualify for benefits, applicants must show that they have worked in the past and paid into Social Security or that they are applying on a family member’s income earnings. The amount of income a person received prior to their disability is not important other than that it will have an influence on the amount they are paid, if their application is approved.
For example, a person has worked as a manager for a large company for the past 15 years. The person suffers a disabling traumatic brain injury in a truck accident. The injury has left the person reliant on others for his daily care and therefore he is no longer able to work and support his family. He can apply for benefits through the Social Security Administration based on his prior work history.
While applicant’s income levels can influence the amount they receive in disability benefits, there are limits set on how much the SSA can pay out. For 2014 the maximum payment that a person can receive is $2,642 each month. The final payment is calculated by taking a person’s highest income level from their work history and then determining what their average yearly income would be until they reach the age of retirement. SSD is only active until a person reaches the age of 65. After that age, their disability is replaced with their retirement Social Security payments.
After determining a person’s average income, the SSA will then look at any sources of income the person may have such as workers’ compensation, personal pensions, or government pensions. The existence of an insurance policy for long-term disability or the settlement of a personal injury case will generally not have any effect on the amount people receive in SSD benefits. Benefits from government and public sources can lower the amount of money people receive.
SSD can help disabled people financially but the application process is a difficult one that can take up to a year or longer. To increase their chances of receiving approval for SSD, people should seek the help of an experienced attorney who can help them gather the information needed, explain how the SSD process works, and answer any questions they may have.