If you’re receiving benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) due to a disabling medical condition, you may wonder if those benefits will increase if your condition worsens. Unfortunately, they probably won’t. This is because the amount that you receive from the SSA isn’t necessarily tied to your medical status. There are a few instances, however, when it would make sense to take another look at your benefits if your condition changes.
What is the Difference Between SSD and SSI?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a benefit that is based solely on your work history and past income. How much you receive is not dependent on the degree of your disability, but you must first qualify for benefits by meeting certain conditions. This includes having a continuous disability that is expected to last at least 12 months.
The amount of your SSDI payments will depend on how many years you were gainfully employed and your income over those years. The longer you were employed and the more you made, the more you would have contributed to Social Security. The benefit can range from a few hundred dollars per month to several thousand.
SSI is different than SSDI because it has nothing to do with your work history. Essentially, it is a welfare-based program for people who do not qualify for SSDI and who are disabled. SSI is a fixed amount per month with certain adjustments, and the maximum benefit is the same for everyone who qualifies. In 2018, that amount is $750 per month for an individual and $1,125 for a couple.
When and Why Your SSA Benefits Will Adjust
While worsening health status won’t change the amount of your SSD or SSI payments, there are other factors that could result in higher payments. The SSA gives everyone a cost of living allowance (COLA) adjustment each year, so benefits should go up effective in January. For example, both SSDI and SSI benefits received a 2 percent COLA for 2018.
Since SSDI payments are based on past earnings, there are no other factors that will adjust this monthly figure. SSI payments are different. If you have changes in monthly income, marital status, or other benefits, there is a chance that you can receive an adjustment in your monthly SSI payment.
When It Makes Sense to Revisit Your Benefits if Your Condition Worsens
In general, a worsening health condition that increases your level of disability will not result in greater disability benefits from the SSA. However, there are a few situations in which deteriorating health could entitle you to additional benefits. These include:
- If you were receiving SS benefits for a condition such as impaired vision, you might be able to receive additional benefits if your condition progresses to the point of legal or full blindness and this prevents you from working.
- If you’ve already been approved for SS benefits related to kidney disease, you may become eligible for Medicare coverage should your condition worsen and result in complete kidney failure, with a requirement for daily dialysis or a kidney transplant.
- If you develop a new condition that is also disabling, you may find that you are eligible for additional benefits through a different assistance program.
If You’ve Previously Been Denied for Benefits
Perhaps you’ve applied for disability benefits in the past and were denied. Many people are unaware that they have the right to re-apply for SSDI should that same condition worsen. If you are within the period for an appeal, you can file for reconsideration of the decision and present new evidence. Even if that appeals period has passed, you can re-apply. In either case, it would be beneficial to speak with an experience benefits attorney about your options.
Speak with a Qualified SSD and SSI Benefits Attorney
Getting approved for SSDI or SSI benefits can be a challenge if you aren’t accustomed to bureaucracy and government red tape. Often, these agencies will deny a claim due to a technicality or as a matter of course on the assumption that you will just drop your request.
If you are unable to work due to a covered medical issue or disability, you have the right to request one of these benefits if you meet certain qualifications. The experienced SSDI and SSI lawyers at Walton Law, LLC, will review your case and advise you of your options. In Mobile and Baldwin County, contact us now at 251-455-5819 or online to schedule a free case evaluation.