Spouse’s Income Affect Social Security Disability
How Does My Spouse’s Income Affect My Social Security Disability Benefits Application?
The success of your application for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits will be greatly influenced by the extent to which you are able to work and earn income.
Does Your Spouse’s Income Affect My Social Security Disability?
For your own SSD benefits application in Florida, the good news is that only your sources of income are reviewed—not your spouse’s.
Thus, your eligibility for Social Security Disability may be quite different than your spouse’s. However, your spouse’s earnings, however much higher than yours might have been, will not affect your application.
This is not to say that no other earnings will affect your SSD application, however.
This article will discuss how SSD benefits are calculated based on earnings and then discuss what other sources of income or earnings may reduce your benefits—or endanger them.
Those earnings may not arise from a spouse—but they are worth understanding before you begin your SSD benefits application.
What Are Social Security Disability Benefits, Exactly?
Federal Social Security Disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI, or “age benefits”) are paid out to you and your family members if you meet the right eligibility criteria for either program.
With regard to SSD, you must have worked enough in your lifetime to be considered “insured” under the program. In other words, you must have paid enough by way of Social Security tax withholdings to be eligible to request an “insurance payout” if you are no longer able to work due to disability.
Provision of a basic income in the case of disability is, in fact, the purpose of Social Security Disability benefits.
SSD benefits remain available so long as you remain disabled. For some, this is a temporary mode of assistance. For others, it is an open-ended lifeline.
While the question of who is and who is not “disabled” as defined by the Social Security Administration, or SSA, this article is focused instead on the economic considerations in the SSD benefits application process in Orlando and elsewhere in Florida.
That being the case, who is eligible for Social Security Disability in Florida?
What Is the Social Security Disability Income Cap in 2022?
To qualify for SSD benefits, you must be unable to work for a year or more because of a disability. If your disability does not prevent you from working for a year or more, you are ineligible.
Beyond that consideration, you must also have, prior to becoming disabled, have worked long enough to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.
Specifically, you must have earned a sufficient number of “work credits” to receive SSD benefits.
Work credits are units measured by the SSA that indicate the number of years you have worked and paid taxes into the Federal Social Security program.
You can, working full time and with Social Security or SSDI taxes properly deducted from your wages, earn up to 4 work credits per year.
The amount of income equating to a single work credit varies from year.
In 2022, $1,510 in wages or self-employment income earned will generate 1 work credit. (Thus, it does not take an enormous amount of earnings to hit the cap of 4 work credits per year.)
You may need a higher or lower number of work credits for SSD eligibility. This is dependent upon your age when you become disabled.
The formula that the SSA uses to determine which working years apply for SSD eligibility purposes are complex.
The agency will, generally, count the years that you worked between the ages of 22 and the age you became disabled. It will then calculate your work credit total from the best earning of those years, after factoring out 1-5 so-called “dropout years.”
At the end of the day, the SSA will pay out a monthly amount premised upon your highest years of earning—and premised upon the number of such years.
However, many of those years happen to underpin your Florida SSD benefits calculation, you will receive 100% of that calculated amount.
Household or Spousal Income and SSD Family Maximum Benefits
It is worth noting that, although a spouse’s income will not affect your Social Security Disability benefits claim, your disability benefits may flow to your spouse or children as well.
To this extent, there is a maximum amount of SSD benefit that a household can receive.
Generally, the family maximum benefit amount for a disabled individual is 85% of the individual’s average “indexed” monthly earnings. (Average indexed monthly earnings is a reflection of the full work history earnings amount discussed above.)
The family maximum cannot be more than 150% of the disabled individual’s SSD award amount.
Again, however, this is not a reflection of a spouse’s income. The rules for the determination of a household maximum SSD amount are, again, premised on the disabled person’s income alone.
It is not relevant whether a spouse in the household is a cashier at a drug store or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
What Documentation Will the SSA Require About Your Work History?
To verify your employment and earnings history, the SSA will, with your application, require a large amount of verifying documentation.
Gathering and assembling this documentation, as well as the balance of the SSD application materials, is one good reason to retain an Orland, Florida Disability Lawyer to assist you with your application.
In general, the SSA will request the following types of documentation from you:
- Your earnings history for the year you file your disability claim and for the prior year;
- The identity of your employer(s) for those 2 years;
- A disclosure of all jobs held for the 15 years prior to becoming disabled;
- Documentation regarding any workers’ compensation or other benefits received or to which you may yet be entitled;
- Proof of your identity
- W-2 forms or 1099 forms or other self-employment tax return documentation;
- Pay-stubs, award letters, or any other income documentation that may be applicable.
What Is the Process for Determining Whether I Will Receive SSD Benefits in Florida?
The Florida Social Security Disability benefits application process is fairly straightforward—at first.
- First, you assemble the documentation required to support your SSD claim.
- Next, you submit the application to the Social Security Administration (electronically).
- The SSA reviews the application for completion and accuracy.
- It then forwards the application to the Disability Determinations Department at the Florida Department of Health.
- This State of Florida Disability Determinations Department than either accepts or rejects the application.
The majority of cases are initially rejected—again, without regard to your spouse’s income.
It is at the point of initial rejection that you should contact an Orlando or Maitland, Florida Disability Attorney to discuss your options with you.
If you don’t wish to appeal or argue your benefits rejection, you need to take no further step.
On the other hand, if you do believe that your case should not have been rejected, your Florida Disability Lawyer will present a further process to you for appealing your case.
In short, the process of appealing an SSD rejection is as follows:
- Request for Reconsideration by a new SSA Examiner.
- Request for a Hearing (to argue your case) before an Administrative Law Judge.
- If necessary, a further appeal to the Social Security Appeals Council.
- If further necessary, the filing of a lawsuit in Federal District Court.
When Do You Need a Florida Social Security Disability Attorney?
A Florida Disability Attorney is useful from the outset in the Social Security Benefits application process. Retaining a lawyer from Step 1 of the process will maximize your odds of success—and greatly reduce the possibility that your application is rejected for some technical reason.
If you have filed your application without the assistance of a Disability Attorney, you certainly need one when your application is initially rejected.
It is crucial, in fact, to contact an experienced Disability Lawyer as quickly as possible once this happens as your right to appeal expires after the passage of a fairly tight deadline.
When your ongoing livelihood is at stake, you truly have no time to lose.
How The Law Offices of Shea A. Fugate, PA Will Assist You
At The Law Offices of Shea A. Fugate, PA, we will ensure that your Florida Disability claim is handled with care.
Once you submit your information to us, you will receive an immediate opportunity to discuss your disability claim with us in a free, initial consultation with our Florida Social Security Attorney.
During that discussion, we will chart a continued path forward for you and provide you all of the initial guidance you need to make the right decision for yourself and for your claim.
Armed with the free information we will provide you; you will be fully informed and able to determine what the best course of action for your disability claim will be.