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Disability Assistance: SSI, SSDI, And What Should You Expect To Receive

Being granted disability benefits can make you feel uplifted and exhilarated. For many, the difficult struggle to receive disability payments makes success that much more worthy of a celebration. Now that you qualify for disability payments, it's good to know what you can expect depending on the specific benefits you've been granted.

How Much Do Disability Benefits Pay?

Surprisingly, that depends entirely on how much you've earned in your lifetime before becoming disabled. Because social security disability benefits are funded by everyone putting their money into the pot, the government has an incentive to reduce the opportunity for people to take out more than they put in. Unfortunately for disability benefits recipients, this can lead to some disappointing outcomes.

In 2014, the federal maximum for disability payments is $2,642, but the average amount for people to receive is $1,148. If you're expecting to live on your disability funds entirely, relying on this amount could put you below the poverty line. As an added caveat, social security disability payments currently have a five month waiting period after you qualify before you can start receiving funds.

If you haven't earned enough in your lifetime to earn social security disability benefits, your situation is slightly more bleak, but you can still receive benefits.

Supplemental security income is available to disabled people on the basis of need. It doesn't require you to have paid into the system at all, and is available to those who have not worked enough to qualify for SSDI benefits. As of 2014, the maximum you can receive this way is $721 per month. Fortunately, supplemental security income does allow you to make some money without reducing your benefits.

What Can Change Your Disability Payment Amount?

Depending on the type of disability benefits for which you qualify, you'll need to manage your finances carefully to avoid reducing the amount you receive. However, you may also be able to get a little more financial help through other state and federal programs.

Social security disability recipients: Because recipients of these benefits are considered to have paid for them through previous work, restrictions on the amount available are fairly lax in comparison to SSI benefits. While SSDI recipients cannot start working full time and continue receiving benefits forever, they are encouraged to try to find a job that will support them with a work trial period of nine months.

Work months do not have to happen all at once, either. However, earning more than $770 in any month will count it as one of the nine. After the trial is over, you will not receive benefits for any month in which you make more than $1,070. If, after 36 months, you are still working, you will no longer be able to claim benefits even for months when you income falls below previous limit.

Supplemental security income recipients: Money that you receive from others counts as unearned income for this purpose, and regularly receiving it will ensure that your benefits are reduced. Likewise, if someone provides you with free housing or the government allows you to use low-income housing, you'll see a reduction of benefits to make up for your in-kind income - the money you would have to spend on housing if it weren't free or reduced.

You'll also see your benefits shrink if you receive other welfare money from the government, such as SNAP. However, in a bid to help disabled people become more independent, you can choose to save money in a PASS (plan to achieve self sufficiency) account without incurring any penalties to your benefits. You may also receive supplemental monies from your state, and these do not affect the amount of federal aid you receive.

Social security benefits can be disappointing at times, but you can keep them at their maximum with careful tending of your finances. If you're worried about a new benefit or source of income reducing your social security payments, talk to your lawyer about your options. With a little help from the right people, you just might be able to get your life back on track.

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