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Benefits Overview

The following information provides a snap shot of Social Security disability benefits. Individuals may receive benefits under either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

In general, benefits are very modest. The average SSDI benefit for a disabled worker is about $1,171 per month. For a family, the average benefit is approximately $1,851 per month. 

SSI is an income-based program designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people who have little or no income.  Because of this, any other income a SSI recipient receives will generally reduce his or her monthly SSI benefit amount.

In 2019, the Federal maximum for monthly SSI benefits is $771 for an eligible individual.  But, since a recipient’s monthly benefit amount is reduced by subtracting countable income, the average SSI monthly benefit is around $542 per month for all recipients.  Some States also supplement SSI benefits, meaning the State pays additional money to increase the recipient’s monthly Federal SSI payment.

  • For disability insurance benefits and disabled widow’s and widower’s benefits, benefits cannot be paid until the beneficiary has been disabled for five months (aka “the five-month mandatory waiting period”). In addition, benefits cannot be paid more than one year prior to the date in which the claim was filed.
  • For a disabled adult child, there is no five-month waiting period for benefits to begin, but retroactivity depends on what specific type of benefit the parent receives.  For instance, if the parent receives retirement insurance benefits, childhood disability benefits can be paid up to six months prior to the filing date on the application date.  But, if the parent receives disability insurance benefits, childhood disability benefits can be paid up to one year prior to the application date.
  • For SSI, benefits cannot be paid prior to the start of the month following the claim’s application filing date.

Social Security periodically reviews individual cases to determine eligibility for disability benefits (aka a Continuing Disability Review or CDR). When Social Security reviews a case of someone already on Social Security disability benefits, they continue benefits in the vast majority of cases. 

In the next few years, Social Security will be completing far more reviews of beneficiaries to determine whether they are still disabled. However, most individuals who are reviewed will see their Social Security disability benefits continued.

You should appeal immediately. If you appeal within 10 days of being notified that your disability benefits are being ceased, you can ask that your disability benefits continue while you appeal the decision to terminate your benefits. If you do not appeal within the first 60 days of receiving the notification, you may lose the right to appeal.

You may also want to talk with an attorney about representing you on your case, but you should file the appeal immediately.

Adapted from a publication from Charles T. Hall, Esq., NOSSCR Past President. 

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