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See how your Social Security disability benefit amount is calculated and estimate what you can receive.
Disability Payments for Disabled Workers
If you are a disabled worker, your Social Security Disability benefit is determined by your earnings record and your age when you become disabled. These factors form the basis for calculating your benefit. Your disability benefit will be the same amount as it would be if you were at full retirement age; that is, your benefit will not be reduced. When you apply for disability, the Social Security Administration can estimate the amount your benefit will be if you are approved. If you are an older worker, you can also consult the earnings statement of Social Security wages that the Administration sent out a few years ago.
Disability Payments for Disabled Adult Children
If you are a disabled adult child, your benefit is determined by your parent’s earnings record, the family maximum amount, and the number of other dependents or survivors receiving benefits on the same record.
Disability Payments for Disabled Widows, Widowers, and Surviving Divorced Spouses
If you are approved for disabled widows, widowers, or disabled surviving divorced spouses’ benefits, then your benefit amount is based on the family maximum amounts for survivors on your deceased spouse’s earnings record and the age you became disabled. The older you are when you become disabled, the higher the benefit. As in the case of a disabled adult child, if you are a widow or a widower, your benefit also depends on the number of people drawing benefits on the account. However, disabled surviving divorced spouses are paid outside the family maximum, and their benefit is not affected by, and does it not affect, amounts paid to other dependents on the record. When you apply for disability, the Social Security Administration can estimate the amount your benefit will be if you are approved.
How Much You Will Receive and What to Expect after Your Social Security Disability Claim Is Approved
Learn about benefit calculations and the effect of working after approval of your Social Security Disability claim. Find out when you can appeal a representative payee determination and how best to respond to a continuing disability review (CDR).
What to Expect after Approval of Your Social Security Disability Claim
After you have been found disabled, Social Security’s central payment center double-checks that the earnings record on which you are claiming benefits has enough credits to insure you for Social Security benefits. The payment center then calculates benefits, applying any necessary offsets, pays your attorney or other representatives if you have one, and authorizes your payment. It also decides whether benefits can be paid directly to you or whether you need assistance with managing your benefits
Once payment starts, benefits will continue as long as you continue to be disabled. (Disabled adult children and disabled surviving spouses must also continue to meet some relationship requirements.) At intervals, you will be asked to provide proof of continuing disability. If you remain medically disabled but are able to work some, Social Security has return-to-work incentives to help you as you re-enter the workplace.
After my qualifying for Social Security Disability, will the Social Security Administration help me get food stamps, housing assistance, and health insurance for my family?
Qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits does not automatically entitle you to food stamps, housing assistance, health insurance for your family, or other assistance programs. When you have received Social Security Disability benefits for more than twenty-four months (including back pay months), you will be eligible for Medicare health insurance, but your family will not.
Assistance for the Whole Family
With the onset of your disability, your family’s income is likely to have gone down, so it’s possible that you and your family could be eligible for food stamps or other help from governmental agencies or private non-profit organizations.
To see what is available, you might start by checking with your state or county health and human services department and/or your closest government housing authority. Also, many states and counties have free referral services to connect you with organizations that can help you. The referral services are often accessed by dialing 211 on your telephone. The blue pages in phone books also list assistance agencies and organizations, usually organized by the type of assistance you seek. You also might search online for help available in your geographic area. For example, for help with your heating bill, you might search “energy assistance” and the name of the city or county in which you live. Additionally, your local Social Security office may have a list of helping agencies.
Will I get cost-of-living increases in my Social Security Disability check?
Learn how your Social Security Disability check will increase with inflation and how the cost-of-living increases are calculated and paid.
Cost-of-Living Adjustment to Disability Benefits
Social Security law includes a provision for cost-of-living adjustments, often called COLAs, which increase the amount of your disability benefit. The purpose of the COLAs is to help your Social Security benefits keep up with inflation.
When COLAs are Payable
You will get a cost-of- living increase in your Social Security disability check if during the previous fiscal year there was an increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. If there is no increase in the Index, then there is no increase in Social Security Disability benefits. For example, Social Security announced a 1.7 percent increase in gross disability benefits for 2015 because there was a 1.7 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index for the fiscal year ending September 2014. But there was no increase in benefits in 2016 because there was no increase in the Index in the prior year.
The COLA increase for 2020 is 1.6%. Social Security increases begin with the December benefit of the year the Index increases and are paid in January of the following year. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) COLA increases begin with the January benefit of the year following the Index increase and is paid in January.
Finding Out If There Will Be a COLA
Whether or not there will be a cost-of-living adjustment and the amount of any increase are announced in the fourth quarter of each year. In addition to a public announcement, the Social Security Administration will send you a letter that shows the new amount of your Social Security disability check, including the cost-of-living increase, if any.