When considering whether to pursue Social Security Disability Insurance benefits in Boston, it’s important to point out (contrary to what some say) you aren’t going to get rich on these benefits. That isn’t to say they aren’t worth pursuing; for many people, SSDI is absolutely the only thing that keeps them financially afloat when they have suffered a life-altering injury or illness and can’t work.
In Massachusetts, about 4.5 percent of our four million population receive SSDI benefits from the Social Security Administration. However, only about half who initially apply will be approved for it. Those who are denied will have several more opportunities to appeal, and the chances of approval increase the further you make it in the process. There is an Office of Disability and Adjudication Review (ODAR) in Massachusetts with numerous locations, including in Boston, Framington, Lowell, Chelsea and Lawrence.
The SSA reports more than 10 million people receive SSDI benefits nationally, and it’s useful to know upfront how much you would receive if you pursue this course of action and are successful. Here, we’ll explain in greater detail the ways in which the SSA determines what amount of benefits you and your family may receive. It’s based on your work history based on an averaged index of monthly earnings.
Am I Eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits?
First, our SSDI attorneys in Boston will look carefully at the circumstances of your case to ascertain whether you are eligible for any benefits under the program. To do that, we have to look at whether you are disabled according to the standards set forth by the Social Security Administration. The mere fact that you are not able to work in your current job because of your illness or injury does not in and of itself ensure you are entitled to SSDI benefits.
As explained by the SSA, you first need to have worked in positions that are covered by Social Security. You also need to have worked long enough and recently enough under the program to qualify. This is done by calculating Social Security Credits. If you stop working prior to racking up enough credits to qualify you for benefits, those credits will remain on your record, so that if you end up working more later, you may be able to qualify. If you have fewer than 40 total credits, 20 of which you earned in the 10 years prior to filing your application, you won’t be eligible to collect any benefits. Younger workers can sometimes qualify for benefits, though. For instance, if you are under 24 and have 6 credits from the last three years, you could qualify. If you are between 24 and 31, you would need to have worked at least half the time from age 21 until you apply. If you’re older than 31, the amount of credits you need are based on your previous years of work. The only exception is if you are blinded, in which case you need to have earned at least 20 credits in the decade before becoming disabled.
You must also meet the SSA’s definition of disability. Unlike other disability benefits programs, like workers’ compensation, there is no payout for short-term or partial disability. The criteria you must meet are:
- You are unable to do the work you previously did;
- The SSA determines you can’t find other work due to your medical condition;
- Your disability is expected to last or has already lasted at least one year prior to your application, or else you suffer from a terminal condition.
These rules assume that you and your loved ones do have other resources upon which you can rely during the application process, such as workers’ compensation, short-term disability benefits, insurance and savings. If you don’t have access to these things and you are in dire financial straits, our SSDI attorneys may be able to expedite your claim. There are also benefits that can be paid to the worker’s widow or widower and/ or dependent children in the even the claimant dies. Not all widows/ widowers will be eligible, but our SSDI attorneys can help you ascertain whether you will qualify.
How Much Will I Be Paid?
The method of calculating your SSDI benefits will take into account your previous work history and then plug it into a formula.
Your insurance benefit will take in 90 percent of the first $895. You will then add 32 percent of any amount between $895 and $5,397. Finally, you will add 15 percent of any amount over $5,397.
So let’s say for example your average earnings were $4,000 a month prior to your disability onset. First, you take in 90 percent of that first $895, which is $805.5. Then, you would add 32 percent of any remaining amount between $895 and $5,397. In this case, that would mean you have $3,105 remaining, so 32 percent of that is $993. Add that to your $895, and your calculated monthly benefit will be $1,888.
To tally this figure, the SSA will use your 35 highest earning years and adjust for inflation. If you don’t have at least 35 years of work history, the SSA will start by taking your age and subtracting by 22, determining the number of potential adult working years you have had so far. One-fifth of those years is then rounded down to the nearest whole number (unless it’s under 2, in which case, we just use 2). If it’s more than 5, we just use five. That second number is then subtracted from the first. So let’s say you’re 32. That minus 10 is 22, and one-fifth of that is 2. It’s already a whole number, so we just use that. We then subtract 2 from 10 to get 8, which means your disability benefits determination will be based on your top 8 years of work earnings.
Your spouse may also be eligible for benefits if they are 62 or older or if they are responsible for the care of a child who is either under 16 and receiving Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) or who is disabled. Children are eligible for benefits if they are disabled, under 18 or in high school but no older than 19.
Because it’s estimated 1 in 4 workers will be disabled at some point in their career, these are tough questions, but they must be explored and understood. We can help.
If you or a loved one is seeking Social Security Disability Insurance in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
How big will my Social Security disability benefit be? March 16, 2018, By Dan Caplinger, USA Today
More Blog Entries:
Waiting on SSDI in Boston: How Our Attorneys Help Expedite Your Case, March 1, 2018, Boston SSDI Lawyer Blog