Tens of millions of Americans rely on financial assistance from the Social Security Administration, and while retirees and their families make up the majority of the roughly 59 million Americans who will receive Social Security benefits this year, disabled workers and their dependents account for close to 11 million. If you believe you may be entitled to Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits for a serious injury or illness that prevents you from returning to work, contact our knowledgeable SSDI attorneys at Rechtman & Spevak today for legal help. With our experienced lawyers on your side, you can protect your legal rights and pursue the disability benefits you deserve.
Pursuing SSDI Benefits in Georgia
Retirement benefits are important, and most people spend years planning for retirement, but a serious injury or illness resulting in disability can strike at any time, leaving you suddenly unable to work and support your family. For this reason, it is important for everyone, regardless of age or health, to educate themselves on the basics of the Social Security disability program, so if the time comes that you need SSDI benefits, you’ll be prepared. Below are four of the most important components of Social Security disability benefits.
1. How to Qualify for SSDI Benefits
The Social Security Administration (SSA) requires that you work a certain length of time before you can qualify for SSDI benefits, with every $1,200 in annual wages earning one credit, up to a maximum of four credits per calendar year. Unlike retirement credits, the number of credits you need to qualify for SSDI benefits depends on your age. If you are 62 or older, you need 40 credits to qualify, and you must have earned at least 20 of these credits within the 10-year period leading up to your disability. The total number of credits required then drops by two for every two years younger than 62 you are. In other words, if you are between 31 and 42, you only need 20 credits to qualify for SSDI benefits, and if you are 24 or younger, you need only six credits.
2. How the SSA Defines a Disability
The Social Security Administration uses a strict definition of disability that prevents individuals with short-term disabilities and partial disabilities from collecting benefits. In order for you to claim SSDI benefits, you must be suffering from a disability that is expected to last for at least a year or result in death. The disability must also be considered “total,” meaning you are unable to perform the work you used to do, and you are unable to adjust to other types of work due to your disability.
3. What Benefits You and Your Family are Entitled To
The amount of disability benefits you and your dependents are entitled to depends on your work history. When you file a disability claim, the Social Security Administration uses a formula to determine your disability benefits based on your average earnings, taking into account inflation. In addition to your own disability benefits, your spouse may also be entitled to benefits if he or she either reaches age 62 or is caring for a child under 16. Children under 18 can also receive benefits directly, as can high school students who are 18 or 19 years old.
4. How Disability Benefits Affect Your Retirement Benefits
Your retirement benefits will automatically replace SSDI benefits when you reach full retirement age, but the Social Security Administration will continue to pay you the same amount for retirement that it did under disability. That way, disabled individuals don’t have to worry about a cut in benefits when they retire.