The amount goes down if you are receiving income or any sort of help from anyone else. Social Security doesn't count the first $20, and then they reduce your SSI amount by $1 for every $2 you receive. If your parents help with rent or expenses, you're going to lose some of your benefits. Yes, you need to report it. Defrauding the federal government is not a good long term life strategy. If you have a loved one who is receiving SSI benefits and you want to leave them some money or have some money put aside in case of an emergency, you can do that through a special needs trust. But that's another blog post.
SSI payments start from the month that you apply for benefits. They do not start from the month that you became disabled. This is why it's important to apply for benefits when you feel you cannot work, or that you feel, or your doctor thinks, you are disabled.
If you're applying for SSDI benefits, that means that you have worked at least five out of the past ten years. SSDI pays the same amount that you would get if you waited to retire until full retirement age. Your earnings record freezes as of your disability date and it is as if you had worked the entire time. The range of payments can go from about $300 to $2663. If you made very little, then you can assume you won't make very much. In order to have Social Security consider 2015 a year you worked, you need to have made $4880. If all you made was the minimum amount each year, you're looking at making only about $300 off of SSDI benefits. On the other hand, if you paid the maximum into FICA every year, which for 2015 is making $118,500 a year, then you can assume your benefit is going to be $2663 a month. The average benefit is between $1000 and $1200 a month.
Notice that SSDI payments can be lower than SSI payments. You can get both benefits at the same time. If your SSDI benefits are lower, SSI payments can pick up the difference to get you to $733 a month. Why do SSDI benefits at all in that case? Because you get Medicare with SSDI. SSI has to settle for Medicaid benefits.
That's all well and good, but you want to know exactly how much you'll get, right? Well, you can calculate it based on a very complex formula based off of when you started to work, when you started making over a certain amount, and multiply it by different percentages to make up for inflation. Or, you can go on Social Security's website, pop in your information, and they will tell you how much you would get at retirement and if you went on disability now. The website is here.
You can also get money for your children if you have minor children that you are supporting. You need to call Social Security once you have been approved and they will take your child's application for benefits then. You will also need their birth certificates. You can get an additional 100-200 dollars per child, depending how much you worked. Stepchildren, adopted children and even grandchildren can qualify. Basically if you are financially responsible for a child - you can get benefits for that child. Children's benefits are not available in SSI cases.
SSDI does care when you actually stopped being able to work and became disabled and they pay you from that date. Sort of. They don't pay for the first five months. This is another reason to do the SSI application because it might pay those five months if you apply immediately when you stop working. Assuming you meet the need-based requirements of SSI, of course.
If you wait to apply for benefits, Social Security might find you disabled all the way back to when you stopped working five years ago, but they'll only pay you a year back from the date you filed for disability benefits. Another reason not to put off filing.
When do the payments actually come? They come on the first, second, third or fourth Wednesday of the month. It depends on when your birthday falls in the month. When you're approved for benefits, the award letter will tell you when you will be paid. You can sign up for direct deposit or you can get a debit card called Direct Express that gets reloaded every month. Social Security really tries not to send out checks anymore.
If you are owed back pay from Social Security from the time it took to process your application, that will arrive separately from your monthly payment. It will arrive suddenly in your bank account one day. It may arrive before your award letter and be a pleasant surprise. You may have to wait an extra few months for it depending if something gets held up at the payment center. Talk to your attorney if this is the case.
SSI recipients are not allowed to have more than $2000 in their possession at one time (or $3000 if they are married). This causes a problem if they are due several thousand dollars in back pay. Of course Social Security has a solution for this. They dole out the money, $2000 at a time, every couple of months, and allow you to spend it down before giving you more. If you have a dire financial situation where you have debts that need to be paid immediately (i.e. a house in foreclosure) then you can get the back pay all at once. This seems extremely wasteful to me, so you can also look at putting this money in a special needs trust to be used in case of an emergency.
Attorney's fees are withheld by Social Security and paid directly to your attorney.
If you have any other questions, please contact The Foster Law Firm at (480)621-7231.