The amount of cash benefits you receive depends on your past earnings. You are entitled to what you paid into Social Security. If you earned a lot of money, the percentage that was withheld from your paycheck and paid into the system will be greater than if your earnings were not substantial.
You can find out what your estimated monthly benefit would be by reviewing your Social Security Statement. It can be obtained online at www.ssa.gov. Click “online services” > “Get your Social Security Statement” > “view your Social Security Statement online” > “Create An Account.”
To create an account you will be asked a series of security questions. Creating an account takes 5–10 minutes. Once the process is complete, your Social Security Statement can be downloaded. Look for (1) whether you are eligible for disability benefits and (2) the Primary Insurance Amount (PIA). The PIA is an estimate of what your monthly benefit would be if benefits were awarded immediately.
Benefits can be received as long as the recipient is medically unable to perform substantially gainful work. For 2014, the maximum monthly benefit amount is $1,070. Upon reaching the age of 65, Disability benefits will be converted to Retirement benefits. The recipient continues to receive the same total amount over the years, but the Disability benefits are instead called Retirement benefits. Essentially, if someone begins receiving Disability benefits before the age of 65, the total amount of Retirement benefits awarded will be less.
The Social Security Administration regularly reviews the status of each recipients’ medical condition and work activity. If a recipient’s condition improves to where he/she can earn $1,070 a month, the Social Security Administration will terminate benefits.
If benefits are awarded, past-due benefits may also be available. Past-due benefits include the period between the date of the award and the month after the Initial Application was filed.
Once approved, the Social Security Administration will determine a starting date when your condition is deemed severe enough to be considered disabling. The date is called the established onset date (EOD). That date can affect the amount of past due benefits available for a recipient.
For example, an SSI recipient with an EOD before the date of application submission will have his EOD moved to the date of application submission. SSI recipients are not entitled to retroactive benefits (discussed below), making the earliest possible EOD the date of application. In this case, benefits start the month after the date of application.
However, an SSI recipient with an EOD after the date of application will receive past-due benefits for the period between the date of onset (not the month after the date of application) and the date of the award. Therefore, the quantity of benefits will be less.
SSDI recipients have a different benefit calculation because they are eligible for retroactive benefits in addition to past-due benefits.
When the established onset date for an SSDI recipient is prior to the date of application, the recipient can receive up to a maximum of 12 months of retroactive benefits. Retroactive benefits are given for the period of time between the date of onset and the date of application.
To clarify, past-due benefits are for the period of time after the date of application (SSI and SSDI), and retroactive benefits are for the period of time before prior to the date of application (SSDI only).
SSDI recipients are subject to a 5 month waiting period after the EOD. To be entitled to the full 12 months of retroactive benefits, Social Security would have to find the condition became severe enough to be disabling 17 months before the date of application.
In other words, if the date of onset is determined to be 17 months before the date of application, after the 5 month waiting period, an SSDI recipient would be entitled to the full 12 month maximum of retroactive benefits.
However, if the EOD is after the date of application, and the 5 month waiting period pushes the applicant past the date of the award, the recipient will not be entitled to past-due or retroactive benefits. Instead he will just begin receiving the regular monthly benefit.
Typically both past-due and retroactive benefits are delivered in a lump sum. The benefits are comprised of the PIA multiplied by the number of months of past due and retroactive benefits which a recipient is awarded. Once received, monthly benefit checks will then be mailed to your home on the scheduled day.
Money is not the only thing you receive when you are awarded benefits, applicants are also entitled to medical benefits. SSDI recipients are automatically enrolled in Medicare after receiving benefits for 24 months from the date of entitlement (5 months after the established onset date).
Often a recipient’s award will include past due and/or retroactive benefits. The 24 month calculation includes that time. Therefore, if an applicant qualifies for 12 months of retroactive benefits plus 12 months of past due benefits, then around the time the lump sum check arrived, the applicant would be enrolled in Medicare.