Things to Know after being Awarded Disability Benefits

Submitted by Chris on

If you’ve finally made it through what can be a lengthy and challenging review process for receiving Social Security Disability benefits, you’ll need to know what to expect moving forward.

How Much are the Monthly Benefits?

After being awarded benefits, no matter at what stage in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) review process you are deemed eligible, you will receive a document in the mail which is entitled “Certificate of Award”. This document will inform you of the amount of your monthly disability payment.

The amount of each individual’s monthly payment through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can vary. Payments are based on how much you paid into the SSDI fund over the course of your working career. Whether you realize it or not, you made contributions to SSDI through federal payroll taxes which were automatically deducted from each paycheck throughout your employment.

Monthly benefit amounts can also be influenced by other factors, including if the beneficiary is receiving worker’s compensation disability benefits. If you became disabled as the result of a work related injury or illness and are receiving payments through a workers compensation disability plan, then you’re monthly benefit checks for SSDI can be reduced.

Monthly SSDI benefit amounts are also adjusted each year to account for cost of living increases caused by inflation. In recent years however, the annual increase in SSDI benefits has been very minimal as inflation rates have remained relatively low. It is important to understand though that the amount of initial approved benefit payments can change over time.

When do Benefit Payments Begin?

Monthly SSDI benefit payments cannot start until five months after the onset of total disability – whether temporary or permanent. For most of those approved for SSDI, this waiting period is not an issue, since their disability review usually takes longer than five months to complete. If you are like most, your disability payments will begin immediately and you may even receive retroactive payments in a lump sum dating back to the onset of your complete disability or to the date of the initiation of your claim, whichever is applicable in your specific case.

The SSA handles terminal conditions differently, and in most instances, the review process is expedited and the waiting period for payment of benefits is waived.

How Long Will You Receive Benefits?

The Certificate of Award you receive from the SSA usually advises when your disability case will come up for review. Most who receive disability benefits will undergo periodic reviews to determine if their condition has improved, in which case, disability payments would cease or be reduced. The disability review is intended to determine if you are fit enough to return to work, even if on a part time basis.

If your specific disability case involved permanent total disability or a terminal illness, then your disability benefits will not come under review and you will continue to receive monthly payments for the remainder of your life or until you reach the age of eligibility for standard Social Security Retirement Benefits.

If you return to work, you’re required to inform the SSA. Returning to work does not necessarily mean you will lose your disability benefits. Continued eligibility is based on several factors, like your ability to hold a permanent position, the number of hours you work, and the wages you earn. 

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