Sometimes a disability recipient's circumstances may change after they have applied or become eligible for benefits. If you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), certain life changes may increase your benefits. For instance, you may be eligible for a higher benefit amount based on your own earnings or a loved one’s earnings record.
Below, we discuss examples of life changes that may increase a disability recipient’s benefits and why it is important to notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) as soon as possible of any life changes.
Dayes Law Firm has helped many disability recipients over the years keep or obtain the benefits they need by applying or appealing a decision. The initial consultation is 100 percent free and confidential. You are under no obligation afterward to hire our firm, and we charge zero upfront fees for our services.
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Life Changes That May Increase Benefits
Certain life changes that may increase benefits for recipients include:
- Spouse or ex-spouse has passed away – When a disability recipient passes away, his or her current or divorced spouse may be eligible to receive survivors benefits. You could get a higher benefit based on your spouse or ex-spouse’s earnings record. His or her passing may increase your benefits even if you are already receiving a survivor benefit from another spouse.
- Receiving benefits based on spouse’s work – If you are getting Social Security benefits based on your spouse’s work and you have worked, you could receive a higher retirement benefit based on your own earnings. (You can still work while receiving Social Security retirement.)
- Receiving benefits based on parent’s work – If you are getting Social Security benefits based on your parent’s work and you have worked, you could receive a higher disability benefit based on your own earnings. (You must have worked long enough and recently enough to qualify.)
- Adult child has passed away – Adults disabled before age 22 are eligible to receive SSDI benefits. If your child had enough work credits and was providing at least half of your support, you may be eligible to receive a higher parent’s benefit based on his or her earnings record.
- Worsening condition affects earnings – If you are receiving SSI, you may be eligible for a higher disability benefit if you have a worsening condition that affects your earnings. (SSI is based on your income and assets.)
Notifying the SSA of Life Changes
Disability recipients are required to notify the SSA of life changes. Communication with the SSA does not end once you have been approved and start receiving benefits. Life changes must be reported by phone, mail or in-person to your nearest Social Security field office.
If you are receiving SSDI benefits, some examples of life changes to report include:
- If you take a job or become self-employed
- If you get married or divorced
- If a beneficiary passes away
- If you care for a child who receives benefits
- If you receive other disability benefits
If you are receiving SSI benefits, some examples of life changes to report include:
- If you start a new job or stop working
- If you get married, separated or divorced
- If a beneficiary passes away
Life changes do affect your benefits. You may be due additional payments or may be overpaid. If you receive an overpayment, you will have to report it in a timely manner and pay back the SSA.
The SSI program may apply a penalty that will reduce your benefits if you fail to report a life change. You may also be penalized if you report the change later than 10 days after the month in which the change happened.
Failing to report any life changes may ultimately result in your benefits being terminated. You do not want to do anything that will have the SSA questioning your credibility and jeopardizing your benefits.
Contact Our Firm for Trusted Legal Help
A licensed Phoenix Social Security Disability lawyer at our firm is here to answer any questions you may have. We have many years of experience helping people file for disability, filing an appeal after being denied benefits or advocating on their behalf at a disability hearing.
Reach out to schedule a free consultation to get started. There is no risk or obligation involved. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means we do not get paid unless we help you obtain benefits.
Need legal help? Call: 1-800-503-2000