Many people become confused about collecting retirement benefits and Social Security disability benefits from the SSA. While it is correct that the SSA administers both benefits, qualifying for the benefits are two different processes. An individual cannot elect to take early retirement, for example, and then decide to apply for disability benefits instead. Disability benefits are specifically designed for individuals who can no longer work because they are disabled. And, as you may know, electing early retirement benefits at the age of 62 reduces the amount of your retirement benefit. If you are thinking of taking early retirement benefits because of a disability and being unable to work, it is better to apply for disability benefits. Why? Because the monthly amount of disability benefits is the same amount of money that you would receive if you retired at your full retirement age. Therefore, if you are awarded disability benefits, you will receive a higher monthly benefit amount and your eventual retirement amount will be the higher too, as it will be the same amount as your disability benefit. Taking early retirement if you are disabled and can no longer work, instead of filing for disability benefits, can mean that over your life-time you will lose a lot of money that you may be entitled to based upon your hard work.
Recently, there are ads on the internet that seem to promise that people who apply for disability benefits will be awarded almost $3000 a month. These ads are alluding to a benefit amount that is not available to most working people who pay their taxes.
Social Security Disability benefits are paid once you are found disabled, but the amount that you receive on a monthly basis depends upon the amount of money you have earned during your working life, your age, and also whether or not you have paid taxes on your earnings and therefore, contributed to the Social Security system. Many people think they are automatically qualified for a certain amount of monthly disability payments and they are surprised to learn that their monthly benefit is not as high as they hoped. Do not be misled by internet or TV ads. The average person's monthly disability benefit is usually between $1000-$1500. Supplemental Security Income benefit amounts vary by state, but they are not usually more than $1000 per month.
In order to receive a disability benefit that is close to the maximum amount payable, you would need to earn a high salary and pay taxes for over 20 years. For example, the maximum monthly Social Security retirement benefit at full or normal retirement age is $2,788 for 2018 and $2,861 for 2019. However, it is important to remember that the maximum allowable benefit amount is only available to those individuals who had the maximum taxable earnings for at least 35 working years. It is a similar calculation in order to determine the monthly benefit for disabled individuals. If you need further information about how to apply for disability benefits or want to know if you are eligible, contact Cannon Disability Law.
DIANNA CANNON, J.D.