Social Security disability benefits are primarily broken into two types: Title II (SSDI/DIB) and Title XVI (SSI/DI). The latter isn’t employment-based. However, for this discussion, we’re dealing entirely with the former, or Title II, claims.
Title II benefits function as a form of retirement, and both your initial eligibility and your total benefits are tied to your earnings history. Specific eligibility requirements and overall benefits calculations are outside the scope of this discussion. However, this is the link to your paycheck, and it’s important to understand that each time you “pay into Social Security” this way, you’re impacting both your eligibility for Title II benefits as well as your overall benefits following a successful Title II claim.
First, making these payments for a full quarter (three months) earns you a “credit” toward eligibility. To be eligible, you must have accrued credits in 20 of the last 40 quarters immediately preceding your application. In other words, you must have worked and made payments across enough three-month periods to equal five out of the last 10 years immediately prior to your application date.
Second, the more you’ve paid into Social Security, the greater your benefits are likely to be following a successful Title II claim. This is because Title II functions as a form of retirement by replacing a percentage of your pre-retirement income. Generally speaking, Social Security is based on your highest 35 years of earnings, provided you still meet the eligibility requirement. Again, specifics on how the percentage is calculated are outside the scope of this conversation. However, it’s easy to see how making higher and/or additional payments could increase your future benefits following a successful Title II claim.
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By: Devon Brady of Premier Disability Services, LLC®