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Understanding how SSD benefits are calculated


Living with a disability is by no means easy. Whether it is a condition you were born with or one acquired later in life due to an injury or illness, a disability can present challenges in various areas of a person's life. One major area it can impact is the ability to work. When the ability to work is constrained by a disability, this could leave some individuals facing financial problems.

In order to address financial hardships related to a current disability, individuals frequently rely on government programs that specifically help those living with disabilities. Social Security disability benefits, whether SSDI or SSI, could provide a disabled person with the funds they need to get by. But how does the SSA know how much to award? And how do they calculate your needs when it comes to providing you with SSD benefits?

The Social Security Administration views applicants as either disabled or not disabled. In other words, there is no middle ground and applicants are not defined as being partially or temporarily disabled. Either an applicant meets their definition of disabled or not. In most cases, this means the applicant is not able to do the work that they used to, are not able to do other work because of their current disability and his or her disability has lasted or is expected to last at least a year or result in death.

In addition to having a medical condition that meets the SSA's definition of disability, an applicant must have worked in a job that is covered by Social Security, having certain stipulations. The SSA will then evaluate your application. They will look at things such as whether you are currently working, is your condition severe, is your condition found on the list of disabling conditions, are you able to do the work you previously did and whether you can do any other type of work.

If you qualify for benefits, the amount you receive each month will be based on your earnings before becoming disabled and how many years you worked while paying Social Security taxes. Applicants should note that being approved for SSD benefits does not mean immediate enjoyment of these benefits. There is a mandatory waiting period of five months.

Although those living with disabilities are very capable in most areas of life, if a disability limits or prevents a person from working, this can cause serious financial hardships. Thus, it is important to understand what rights are afforded to those living with disabilities and how one can initiate their application for benefits.

Source: Investopedia.com, "How Is Social Security Disability Calculated?," Jim Probasco, Dec. 2, 2015

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