If you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you might be surprised to find that you are still struggling financially. SSDI provides critical financial support to those who are disabled, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) also provides additional support to those with few financial resources. However, these benefits are not generous, and many people find they cannot meet all their monthly expenses using only their disability check.

If you want to increase your disability payments, there is not much you can do. Most adjustments will happen automatically, without the beneficiary needing to do anything. Contact a Tacoma, WA Social Security disability attorney for more information.

How SSA Calculates Your Disability Payment

SSDI benefits are a little different than other disability programs like workers’ compensation in that you don’t receive more money for being more disabled. With workers’ comp, you are assigned a disability rating, and the higher your rating, the more you receive in benefits.

That’s not how SSDI benefits work. Instead, the amount you receive depends only on how much you made in your jobs before becoming disabled. SSA replaces a portion of your average monthly income by looking at a certain number of your highest-earning years.

Recalculating Your Benefits

You might be able to increase your SSDI payments if SSA did not properly count all your qualifying work. There is a process that happens every year to recalculate how much you earn. It is called Automatic Earnings Reappraisal Operation, or AERO. The AERO recalculations happen twice a year, in April and October.

You should speak to an attorney if you believe SSA overlooked income from previous years, which would impact the amount that you receive. Once all income is counted, you could receive bump up in your disability payments.

Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)

Your benefits might also increase if there has been a cost-of-living adjustment. This happens automatically if the Consumer Price Index shows that there has been inflation. This index measures how much it costs to buy certain goods through the year, such as a pound of ground beef or a gallon of milk. If the cost rises, then the CPI will rise and the government might increase the amount of your benefit check.

You will see if there has been any COLA by looking at your January benefits. There is really nothing you can do if the government doesn’t offer a COLA adjustment.

Return to Work

You can also increase the amount of money you bring home by obtaining a part-time job. SSA allows those on disability to re-enter the workforce for a period of 9 months to see if they can do work. After this nine-month period, you can earn up to a certain amount each month and still qualify for benefits for a period of 36 months. The maximum amount is low; currently, it is $1,220. If you go over that in any month, you jeopardize your benefits.

Did SSA Miscalculate Your Benefits?

If you think SSA made a mistake, you should consult with a Tacoma Social Security disability attorney. We have extensive experience in all aspects of SSDI and can review your case. Please contact us to schedule a free initial consultation.