Friday, June 25, 2010

Your Disability Benefit: It Is What It Is

The following article was authored by Quatrini Rafferty attorney A. Tereasa Rerko and originally published in our newsletter, the Legal Update.

Quite often, I am asked how much monthly income a person will receive if they are approved for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. My answer is always, "It depends." What it depends upon is your individual earnings history. Monthly SSD benefits are similar to snowflakes: no two are exactly alike. Even if your neighbor or relative is working for the same employer and making similar wages, the calculation of your SSD benefits may not be the same.

SSD benefits are calculated using your unique work history, which includes your earnings for all jobs that you have worked during your lifetime. At the time you are determined to meet the disability requirements of SSD, your benefits will be computed using that work history. The Social Security Administration (SSA) looks at not only how much was earned, but when the income was earned. That income is then subjected to a complex formula to calculate your disability benefit amount.

It is always a good idea to check your earnings history on file with the SSA for accuracy. As long as your earnings history recorded by the SSA is correct, there is really no way to increase the monthly disability benefit amount. However, if your earnings history is not complete or accurate, then the calculations used to determine your monthly benefit amount will be incorrect. We suggest that you make any corrections to that record as soon as possible. To obtain a copy of the earnings record that SSA has on file, a simple request form needs to be completed. To obtain that form, contact your local SSA office, go to, or contact our office.