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Bagen Law Blog

How are my Disability Benefits Determined?

Posted by Steven A. Bagen

Jun 13, 2013 11:16:00 PM

The official State of Florida website states that there are close to 700,000 people in Florida who are currently receiving some form of disability benefits. All disability benefits paid out to people in Florida with disabilities each year amount to $7.8 billion. Disability allowances are handled by the Florida Division of Disability Determinations. There are several criteria that are used to determine if a person qualifies to receive disability benefits. You can talk to your disability lawyer to help you determine if you are eligible.

Calculation of Disability Benefits

The calculation of disability benefits is primarily hinged on the person’s earning history prior to the disability. The higher the amount of income a person was earning prior to the disability, the more they will be entitled to receive in case they become injured or sick and can no longer work. That is the main reason why self-employed people are encouraged to report their incomes.

Calculating Past due Disability Benefits

Once you are awarded either SSI (Supplemental Security Income) or SSD (Social Security Disability), you are entitled to receive a check every month from the US Treasury. If this is the first time you are receiving disability benefits, you will most likely be awarded a one-time lump sum considered ‘‘past due benefits.’’ Let’s examine how the figure for past due disability benefits is calculated.

1. Monthly Benefits

The total figure for the past due benefits that you will receive is determined by multiplying the monthly benefits by the number of months for which the benefits are due. Your disability benefits can be either SSI, SSD or, in some cases, both. SSD payments are calculated based upon your individual payments to SSA. You can calculate your estimated monthly SSD benefits using the Retirement Estimator located on the SSA website. Most people with disabilities don’t qualify for SSI benefits. SSA looks at your household income when determining whether you are eligible for SSI benefits. If your spouse is still working, chances are that you will not receive SSI benefits.

2. Determining the Number of Months for Past due SSD Benefits

Once you have calculated a figure for your monthly SSD benefits, the next step is to determine the number of past due months for which you are entitled to receive these benefits. Contrary to what many people think, the date on which your disability began is not used as the commencement date to determine the number of past due months. The actual date from which your past due benefits are calculated is 5 months after the onset of the disability. That means that the benefits are calculated from the start of the 6th month after the onset of the disability. There is a 5-month waiting period before you can claim disability benefits.

3. Calculating the Number of Months for Past due SSI Benefits

Unlike SSD benefits, which can be backdated by as many as 12 months, SSI benefits are only given when you apply for them. There are no past due SSI benefits. There is no 5-month waiting period for SSI benefits, unlike SSD benefits. The first month that you are considered eligible for SSI benefits is at the onset of the disability, as long as this date is not before your application date.

4. Potential Deductions

There are a few deductions made when calculating past due disability benefits. If you had hired a lawyer to represent you in court during your disability proceedings, SSA will hold out 25% of past due benefits, up to a maximum of $6000, as attorney’s fee. If you had received cash assistance from local and/or state agencies, the money is deducted from your past due benefits and sent to these agencies directly by SSA.

Talk to your disability lawyer and get professional counsel to help you determine your SSD or SSI benefits.

At Steven A. Bagen & Associates, we specialize in legal services to our Gainesville, Ocala, Jacksonville and Northeast Florida clients in matters of personal injury claims and related lawsuits. We are experts at handling disability lawsuits and our friendly and dedicated team of attorneys will help you get your rightful share of disability benefits. Call us today and we will be glad to help you.

Topics: Disability Benefits