Anyone who becomes disabled from either illness or injury in New York has no time to waste before they can take steps to replace their income with disability benefits. Not only do they need to find out what benefits to apply for, but they must also try to determine exactly how much they can receive in monthly benefit payments.
Under current New York State policy, workers who suffer non-work-related short-term disability can apply for Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) benefits. The benefits can be collected for no more than 26 weeks and pay about 50% of your average weekly wage, up to a maximum of $170 per week.
But New York TDI is intended for short-term disabilities from which a victim might be unable to work for several months. What if your disability is permanent or long-term, lasting over 12 months?
Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits
The federal government’s Social Security Administration administers two major disability benefits programs to provide financial support to disabled Americans. They are designed to serve the needs of two separate populations of disabled people, but there is some overlap that permits a single individual to qualify and receive benefit payments from both programs at the same time.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD or SSD)
The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD) program pays benefits to workers who have substantial employment histories, usually over ten years. Eligibility is based on an applicant’s accumulated work credits. One work credit is awarded for each quarter of a year during which the worker earned at least $1,510, or four credits for any year in which they earned $6,160. In most cases, a worker needs to have accumulated 40 work credits to be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.
If a worker is eligible, then they need to present evidence that they have a qualifying disability. Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income both use the same definition of a disability as criteria for benefit qualification:
A disability is a medically determinable physical or mental impairment lasting or expected to last at least 12 months (or result in death) and prevents the person from performing substantial gainful activities.
The Social Security Administration publishes a manual listing a large number of injuries, illnesses, and diseases along with the degree of severity one must demonstrate to be approved for SSD benefits. In many cases, claimants do not meet a “listed” disability criteria but do provide credible and reliable medical documentation of several impairments which may combine to meet the government’s guidelines.
How Much Does Social Security Disability Pay?
Social Security Disability pays benefit recipients the same amount as they would receive if they had reached their full retirement age and filed for retirement benefits. The amount each claimant receives in monthly payments is different from every other claimant.
Your monthly SSD benefit payment amount is determined by the following process:
- SSD finds your highest earning 30 years in your working career
- SSD “indexes” each year by weighing it against the national average wage for that year and adjusting your earnings to account for living cost increases
- SSD totals your 30 highest indexed earning years together, then divides by 30, and again by 12, producing your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME).
Once your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings amount is established, that figure is put through the following formula to produce your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA):
- Add 90% of the first $1,115 of the claimant’s AIME, plus
- 32% of the person’s AIME over $1,115 through $6,721, plus
- 15% of the person’s AIME over $6,721, if any.
- Then round down to the nearest $0.10 if not already a multiple of 10.
The result is the Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) which is the person’s monthly benefit payment.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefit Payments
Supplemental Security Income benefits are intended for those people who do not have a substantial work history and have low income and very few financial resources.
SSI benefits are structured very differently from SSD benefits. The SSI program starts every claimant at the maximum benefit payment level and then deducts “countable” income the claimant received during the month. The maximum SSI benefit payment at the beginning of 2023 is $914 for an individual and $1,371.
There are a series of complicated calculations through which “countable” income is distinguished from “non-countable” income. These different designations permit SSI benefit recipients who work part-time and have children or disabled dependents to minimize the amount deducted from the top benefit level each month.
Attorney Daniel Berger and Law Offices of Daniel Berger practice only disability law and have successfully won disability benefits for thousands of New Yorkers.