Even after Social Security approves them for disability benefits, people still have frustrations. One issue I frequently see comes when a client finds out that somebody else on disability is getting a larger check than she is. I got a call like that this week. I suppose that is because disability is a government benefit, it seems as if everyone should be getting the same amount. This thinking appeals to our sense of fairness.
In the case of Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, every recipient does get the same amount. Right now, it is $733.00 per month. But, the benefits can vary among SSI beneficiaries in terms of what their actual checks look like. This is because Social Security reduces SSI payments if the beneficiary has almost any other source of income. This other income does not even need to be actual money. It can be the value of something, such as someone else providing a place to live or food to eat.
For those people on SSDI, the monthly benefit amount is always going to vary. That is because it is based on what the claimant paid into Social Security during her working career. The more she paid in, the more she will get back. It's really that simple. If the amount is less than the SSI limits, you can receive both SSI and SSDI to get you to the $733.00 per month. At the same time, there is also a maximum benefit. That is currently $2,639.00 per month.
Can I Get More Money If I Am More Disabled?
A similar question is whether a beneficiary can increase the amount of her monthly benefit because her condition has worsened. The notion underlying this query seems to be that a person's monthly benefit is tied to the severity of her medical problems. But, that is not the case. Social Security looks only at numbers to determine how much money you will get. Once you are disabled, you are disabled. You cannot get more disabled. Even if you could, you would still not get additional benefits.
Social Security Always Pays The Highest Benefit You Are Entitled To
Keep in mind, benefits for the disabled can go up, sometimes dramatically. But, this, too, is purely a matter of math. For example, a disabled person might be able to collect on a parent or deceased spouse's earning record. The details of this are too complicated for this post. But, if a disabled person can switch to a higher earnings record, her monthly benefits will go up. I saw this once with a woman who was getting only SSI. Decades later, her father died. Under special rules about being disabled before the age of 22, this woman saw her benefits more than double.
While it can be frustrating to see other people getting more government benefits than you, there is a system in place. For all of its faults, Social Security is very good about always paying the highest amount any person is entitled to receive.
I would love to hear from you with any questions or comments.