For individuals suffering from debilitating physical or mental conditions, Social Security disability can be a godsend. A way to have steady income that can cover basic costs of living as well as medical and other expenses, it can often mean the difference between maintaining a reasonable standard of living or winding up in poverty. However, since the amount of disability can vary from person to person, knowing how to maximize the claim to get the most money possible can be extremely important. If you have a Social Security disability claim and want to know how to maximize it to its fullest extent, here are some tips you should follow.
Take Advantage of Spousal Benefits
If a person is married and receiving disability benefits, they may be able to greatly increase their monthly payment by looking into spousal benefits to which they are entitled based on their spouse’s work history. If married, you can receive one-half the amount of your spouse’s benefit amount when you reach full retirement age. However, if you choose to take these benefits early at age 62, you can expect to have the amount reduced by about 30 percent.
If you really want to maximize the amount of money you can get from a Social Security disability claim, make sure you get as much back pay as possible. In most situations, by the time a disability applicant gets a letter from Social Security informing them they are entitled to disability benefits, they are owed several months to a year’s worth of back pay from the government. To get as much as possible, make sure you establish a Protective Filing Date with the SSA. By doing so, your written statement that you plan to file for disability benefits will allow your application to be retroactive much sooner, enabling you to be eligible for a larger amount of back pay. More information about this can be found here.
Full Retirement Age
If you have disability payments and want to receive as high an amount as possible in the coming years, it’s best to wait until full retirement age to begin receiving spousal benefits. Even though you may have to wait a bit longer to get more money, the increase will make it well worth the wait, since you’ll be getting substantially larger payments each month.
Keep an Eye On Your Earnings
Since Social Security has strict guidelines when it comes to how much a person who is receiving benefits can earn, it’s best to make sure you and your spouse combined do not have earnings that go above these limits. While your disability benefits cannot be lowered, your overall benefits as a couple could be affected. Known as Substantial Gainful Activity, the limit for a non-blind individual can be as low as $1,000. Therefore, to ensure your combined benefits are not reduced, be sure you know the exact amount you can earn monthly, and try not to exceed it. Additional information about this can be found here.
Continue to Receive Medical Treatment
If you were getting medical treatment for a condition prior to being approved for disability, do not stop this treatment as soon as you gain approval from SSA. If you do, it’s possible SSA may decide to re-examine your case if they believe you are being non-compliant with the treatment ordered by your doctor prior to their approval. Even if you do not have health insurance, it’s a good idea to make every effort possible to receive any medical treatment you may need. In many cases, if you can prove to SSA you are making a viable effort to obtain medical care, there will often be no problems about your payments.
By keeping these tips in mind when it comes to your Social Security disability claim, you should find yourself coming out ahead in the long run. Whether you and your spouse determine the best course to spousal benefits, make sure your total earnings are not so high as to reduce your benefits, or make every effort to receive medical treatment deemed to be necessary by SSA, doing so can be beneficial to your overall monthly finances.