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What Is Social Security Disability Benefits

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Benefits For People With Disabilities

Who Is Eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits

The Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs are the largest of several Federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. While these two programs are different in many ways, both are administered by the Social Security Administration and only individuals who have a disability and meet medical criteria may qualify for benefits under either program.

Social Security Disability Insurance pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are “insured,” meaning that you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes.

pays benefits based on financial need.

When you apply for either program, we will collect medical and other information from you and make a decision about whether or not you meet Social Security’s definition of disability. Periodically, we will need updated information about your condition. You may receive a Disability Update Report . This form can now be completed online.

Use the Benefits Eligibility Screening Tool to find out which programs may be able to pay you benefits.

If your application has recently been denied, the Internet Appeal is a starting point to request a review of our decision about your eligibility for disability benefits.

If your application is denied for:

What Social Security Disability Benefits Do I Qualify For In North Carolina

Home » Frequently Asked Questions » What Social Security Disability Benefits Do I Qualify for in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, you may qualify for monthly disability benefits from the federal government under the Social Security Disability Insurance program , the Social Security Insurance program , or both.

North Carolina also offers a state supplement to certain aged, blind, or disabled persons through the State-County Special Assistance Program. Qualifying for SSDI or SSI makes you eligible to also receive health insurance through either Medicare, Medicaid, or both.

Social Security Disability Insurance

Social Security Disability Insurance is a payroll tax-funded federal insurance program of the United States government. It is managed by the Social Security Administration and designed to provide monthly benefits to people who have a medically-determinable disability that restricts their ability to be employed. SSDI does not provide partial or temporary benefits but rather pays only full benefits and only pays benefits in cases in which the disability is “expected to last at least one year or result in death.” Relative to disability programs in other countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development , the SSDI program in the United States has strict requirements regarding eligibility.

People frequently confuse Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income . Unlike SSDI where payment is based on contribution credits earned through previous work and therefore treated as an insurance benefit without reference to other income or assets, SSI is a means-tested program in the United States for disabled children, disabled adults, and the elderly who have income and resources below administratively mandated thresholds. A legitimately disabled person of any income level can receive SSDI.

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What Is Retroactive Pay

You may also qualify for retroactive pay, which covers the 12 months prior to submitting your application. The SSA limits retroactive pay to 12 months, but your back pay may cover a much longer timeframe. Unfortunately, the SSI program does not provide retroactive pay for that same 12-month period.

Social Security Disability Payments Through Ssi

Social Security Disability Insurance Work Programs

If you never worked or do not have a work history of sufficient duration to satisfy the requirements to qualify for SSDI, you may qualify for disability benefits through SSI. SSI is a needs-based program, which simply means that your income and financial resources must be limited. For instance, resources, such as motor vehicles, real property, cash, and bank deposits, and other assets, cannot have a total value of over $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for couples.

Adults or children who are blind or disabled and meet the nonmedical criteria that apply to income and resources may qualify for monthly payments. The maximum amount of the payment that you receive may be affected by the state in which you live.

Some states supplement the federal Social Security disability benefit paid through SSI. The maximum federal benefit, which includes a cost-of-living allowance for 2021, is $794 and $1,191 for an eligible couple. The actual payment that you receive may be greater if you live in a state that supplements the federal payment.

Your SSI payments may be reduced from the maximum benefit by the amount of countable income you receive from other sources during the month. Countable income under the SSI program has a very broad definition that essentially includes anything that may be used to pay for food or shelter, including the value of free meals and lodging provided by friends or relatives.

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Determining Maximum Ssdi Benefits

The process used by the SSA to calculate your maximum SSD benefit amount through SSDI starts with your lifetime average earnings through working at jobs or self-employment covered by Social Security. Your disability lawyer can obtain a copy of your earnings record directly from the SSA.

The SSA continues the calculation process by computing your average monthly income over a period of years to arrive at average indexed monthly earnings or AIME. AIME reflects changes in overall wage levels during the years that you worked and earned an income that was subject to Social Security taxes.

Once it determines your AIME, the SSA uses it in a formula to compute your primary insurance amount or PIA. This PIA is what Social Security uses to set your monthly SSDI benefits payment. The severity of your disability does not factor into the computation of the maximum SSDI benefit that you are entitled to receive each month.

Bear in mind that the actual SSDI benefit you receive may be less than the maximum amount. The following may reduce the amount of your SSDI benefit:

  • Workers compensation benefits.
  • State-administered disability benefits.
  • Early retirement.

If you take early retirement benefits through Social Security available at age 62, it may reduce your monthly SSDI benefit. Talk to an SSDI professional at Scully Disability Law if you took or are considering taking early retirement to learn how it may affect your SSDI benefits.

How Are Disability Insurance And Supplemental Security Benefits Funded

Disability Insurance is funded by payroll tax contributions from workers and their employers. Workers currently pay a tax of 0.9 percent of their wages up to $113,700, and their employers pay an equal amount. These tax contributions go into the Disability Insurance trust fund. Funding for Supplemental Security comes from the federal income tax and other federal revenues.

The Social Security Administration administers both of these programs. State agencies, usually called disability determination services, make the initial determination of whether applicants meet the disability standard. These state agencies are federally funded and follow federal guidelines.

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How Cost Of Living Measures Impact Social Security Disability Payments

Anyone receiving Social Security disability or retirement benefits is subject to the Social Security Administrations COLA, or Cost of Living Adjustment. This simply means that each year, the SSA adjusts benefits upward as the cost of common household goods increases. If the cost of common household goods does not increase substantially, there is usually a very small or no increase to monthly benefit payments.

Because the cost of goods increases at different rates in different areas, the SSA uses a tool called an index. An index gathers data from many locations to come up with an average increase for the country as a whole. Since 1975, Social Securitys general benefit increases have been based on increases in the cost of living as measured by the Consumer Price Index.

Another commonly used index is the Meric cost of living index. It derives the cost of living index for each state by averaging the indices of participating cities and metropolitan areas in that state. And, since 1968, the Council for Community and Economic Research , has also published a popular cost index which is considered the most consistent source of city-to-city cost comparisons available. The C2ER data is recognized by the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and CNN Money.

Likelihood Of Receiving Benefits

Social Security Disability Insurance: What are the benefits?

Considering all levels of adjudication, about 4 in 10 SSDI applicants are awarded benefits. Slightly more than 50 percent of applicants who meet technical requirements of eligibility are determined to be medically eligible.

The number of cases and percentage allowed at each stage of adjudication for all types of disability cases in fiscal year 2020 are as follows:


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Denial Of Disability Benefits

If your application for SSDI is denied , you can appeal the decision. You have to request a review of the denial within 60 days of when you receive the denial letter. The first step of the appeal process is the Request for Reconsideration, a review of your file by a different disability claims examiner. If you are denied again, you can appeal to the next stage, by requesting a hearing with an administrative law judge who works for the SSA.

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    How Does The Ssdi Childs Benefit Work

    Using the SSDI benefit, a child can receive up to half of their parents full retirement or disability benefits, or 75 percent of their deceased parents basic Social Security benefit. But the actual amount your child receives will depend on:

    • The parents Social Security earnings record.
    • Whether or not other family members are also applying for Social Security retirement benefits based on the same parents work record.
    • The number of years a parent paid taxes to the Social Security Administration.

    The childs benefit does not pay anything until the parent begins collecting disability or retirement benefits, or is deceased and worked long enough to draw Social Security. If a parent passes away before collecting Social Security retirement or disability benefits, their child would not be able to get SSDI based on the parents earning record.

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    Special Rules For People Who Are Blind Or Have Low Vision

    We consider you to be legally blind under Social Security rules if your vision cannot be corrected to better than 20/200 in your better eye or if your visual field is 20 degrees or less, even with a corrective lens. Many people who meet the legal definition of blindness still have some sight and may be able to read large print and get around without a cane or a guide dog.

    If you do not meet the legal definition of blindness, you may still qualify for disability benefits if your vision problems alone or combined with other health problems prevent you from working.

    There are a number of special rules for people who are blind that recognize the severe impact of blindness on a person’s ability to work. For example, the monthly earnings limit for people who are blind is generally higher than the limit that applies to non-blind disabled workers.

    In 2021, the monthly earnings limit is $2,190.

    Wait Time For Decisions And Hearings

    Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits

    The amount of time it takes for an application to be approved or denied varies, depending on whether it is an initial decision or a decision based on an appeal. In fiscal year 2019, it took an average of 120 days for SSA to make an initial determination on a disability claim. The figure increased following the COVID-19 pandemic and, for months in fiscal year 2021, the average wait time for an initial decision is 165 days.

    The high number of cases and long wait times for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge has drawn significant attention from Congress in recent years. Congress provided additional funding for this workload and the number of cases and wait times have declined. In fiscal year 2020, the average wait time for a hearing was 386 days .

    For some cases, SSA will expedite disability determinations. These include Quick Disability Determination and Compassionate Allowance cases. These are cases where statistical models or medical diagnoses indicate the person has an extremely severe medical condition. These cases can often be processed in under 30 days. Additionally, many cases involving military veterans are expedited.

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    Social Security Disability Benefits Pay Chart Explained By Disability Attorneys In Greensboro

    October 28, 2021 by Brad Collins

    Brad Collins and Andrew Price are disability attorneys in Greensboro frequently asked about the 2022 Social Security Disability benefits pay chart. The question is particularly pressing this year as the cost of living in Greensboro, NC continues to increase. To address rising costs, the Social Security Administration announced the largest cost-of-living increase to monthly benefit payments in nearly 40 years! Well cover how that impacts disability payments in detail below.

    Social Security Disability Benefits

    Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance are disability income benefits administered by the Social Security Administration that also provide Medicaid and/or Medicare health insurance to individuals who are eligible. The application process for SSI/SSDI is complicated and difficult to navigate. Nationally, about 37 percent of individuals who apply for these benefits are approved on initial application and appeals take an average of two years to complete.

    For people who are homeless or who are returning to the community from institutions , access to these programs can be extremely challenging. Approval on initial application for people who are homeless and who have no one to assist them is about 10-15 percent. For those who have a mental illness, substance use issues, or co-occurring disorders that impair cognition, the application process is even more difficult yet accessing these benefits is often a critical first step in recovery.

    Critical components of SOAR include:

    • Serving as the applicants representative
    • Collecting medical records
    • Writing a medical Summary Report
    • Conducting quality review
    • Please contact a regional coordinator below to find your nearest SOAR Specialist:
    Ashley Blum

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    Your Application May Be Rejected

    The SSA, on rare occasions, may deem an applicant ineligible for SSDI benefits. One of the main reasons is if youve been working in whats considered a substantial gainful activity or that youve been earning a substantial income before your disability. You can appeal for this decision, though, and the SSA will review your case.

    Adults Disabled Before Age 22

    Social Security Disability and SSI Benefits- What’s the Difference

    An adult who has a disability that began before age 22 may be eligible for benefits if a parent is deceased or starts receiving retirement or disability benefits. We consider this a “child’s” benefit because it is paid on a parent’s Social Security earnings record.

    The disabled “adult child” including an adopted child, or, in some cases, a stepchild, grandchild, or step grandchild must be unmarried, age 18 or older, have a disability that started before age 22, and meet the definition of disability for adults.


    It is not necessary that the disabled “adult child” ever worked. Benefits are paid based on the parent’s earnings record.

    • A disabled “adult child” must not have substantial earnings. The amount of earnings we consider “substantial” increases each year. In 2021, this means working and earning more than $1,310 a month.

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    Expect To Get Paid After A Few Months

    As with other government-backed, non-emergency benefits, itll take a few months for SSDI approval. The average waiting time runs anywhere from three to five months. Employees with severe disabilities who qualify for Compassionate Allowances will have expedited processing.

    Once approved, SSDI awarding begins at the 6th month of disability, with the first month starting at the period the SSA decides when the disability began.

    Divorced Spouses Survivors Benefit

    If a disabled worker dies and was receiving Social Security benefits at the time of death, a divorced spouse is entitled to benefits in either of the following circumstances:

    • The surviving divorced spouse is 60 years old or older.
    • The surviving divorced spouse is disabled and between 50 and 60.

    Just like the spouses surviving benefit, if the surviving divorced spouse remarries before age 60, the benefits will be denied unless the spouse was between 50 and 60 AND disabled at the time of the marriage.

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    What Is Social Security Disability Health Coverage Like

    Once your SSDI claims approved and you receive Social Security disability benefits for at least 24 months, you may qualify for Medicare. In most cases, the SSA deducts Medicare medical insurance premiums from your monthly benefits at a deeply discounted rate. To learn more about enrollment, benefits and monthly costs for Social Security disability beneficiaries, see the SSAs Medicare information page.

    How Much Money Can You Have In The Bank With Social Security Disability

    The Social Security Disability Benefits Process

    For purposes of SSI, any money in a checking or savings account counts toward this asset limit. If you became disabled before turning 26, and you have established an ABLE account, you can have up to $100,000 in the account, and that money will not be considered an asset that could make you ineligible for SSI benefits.

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