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Can my disability lawyer help me get more money?

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Some claimants ask, “Can my disability lawyer help me get my money for either Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance  (SSDI)?” This is a great question and may seem to make sense especially when you consider how personal injury claims, car accident claims or workers’ compensation claims work. For those types of claims it is not unusual for a great lawyer to negotiate higher injury settlements with either a jury or the court. Even if an injury settlement does not go to trial, lawyers are also adept at negotiating high settlements with insurance companies.

How is my SSDI and SSI payment determined?

So, let’s discuss a disability lawyer’s role in determining how much SSDI or SSI you may be able to win. A disability lawyer has no influence on the payment amount at all.

The SSA will make a disability determination and they will decide you are either 100% disabled or you are not disabled. There is no negotiation about whether or not you are 45% or 55% disabled and what disability rating you should receive or how much a loss of a finger, for instance, might be worth or how much in lost wages this might equate to over your work life. A claimant is either disabled or they are not disabled.

Because the SSA awards SSDI and SSI to claimants who are only 100% disabled this also eliminates the chance for you to win more benefits in the future if your condition becomes more severe. When you are awarded SSI or SSDI you will be awarded the full amount you are entitled to receive.

Calculating your SSI payment

The amount paid for Supplemental Security Income is based on the annual Federal Benefit Rate (FBR).  For 2012, the Federal Benefit Rate is $698 per month for an individual and $1,048 per month for a couple.  This is the MAXIMUM you will receive from the Federal Government, although some states add a state supplemental payment onto this amount which will make your payment higher in those states.

Many claimants complain about the amount of their SSI. Unfortunately, your disability lawyer will have no influence on the amount you receive. If you are receiving less than the federal benefit rate than your payment is being reduced by your income, your spouse’s income or because you are living with someone who is providing food and shelter to you.

Calculating your SSDI payment

SSDI is based on your contributions through employment taxes into Social Security and your average earnings. If you have worked very little and paid very little taxes your payment will not be very high. Keep in mind, your payment will vary from other worker’s SSDI benefit payments.

How do you find out what your estimated payment amount for SSDI will be? The easiest way is to refer to your Statement of Earnings which is sent from the SSA each year to all workers. If your are like most people and have lost your statement you can contact the SSA but based on their website due to “budget constraints” they are no longer reproducing this statement for claimants, and claimants must instead visit their website and use the SSA disability calculator estimator.
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