1. Know How Much You’re EntitledKnowing how much social security taxes you’ve paid helps you figure out how much benefits you can claim. The Social Security Administration (SSA) now has an online platform where you can check your social security credits. If you’re not familiar with the term, social security credits are the points you earn when you pay social security taxes. In 2021, you can earn one credit for every $1,470 of earnings. But this amount changes annually and you can only earn up to 4 credits each year. To know how many credits you’ve accumulated thus far, all you have to do is log in to their site and create an account. Once done, you can use it to view your social security records, including your earnings history and estimates of your benefits.
2. Be Thorough and Specific When ApplyingWhen you apply for disability benefits, the SSA will ask you to fill-up a form disclosing your injury. The information you declared there will be used to determine your eligibility. If the SSA deems that your medical condition doesn’t meet their criteria for disability, your application will be denied. Or if you fail to declare the true extent of your injury, they might think that your condition isn’t that severe. As a result, your benefits could be way less than what you really are eligible for. Thus, being thorough and specific in your application is essential in maximizing social security benefits. Avoid vague answers like “I feel pain in my foot” or “My hands feel numb.” Add more details such as “The pain in my left foot prevents me from walking or running.” If possible, ask the help of your treating physician. They’ll be able to describe the extent of your injury more accurately.
3. Compare Benefit OptionsDisabled workers aged 62 to 66 years old have the option to avail themselves of either disability or retirement benefits. But in case your financial advisor hasn’t told you yet, availing retirement before 66 years old can reduce your benefits. The younger you retire, the less social security benefits you’ll receive. This is why some retirement planning advocates are advising against it. Disability benefits, on the other hand, do not change no matter what age you apply. If you’re already receiving disability benefits, it will automatically convert to retirement once you reach full retirement age. So be sure to calculate and compare which benefit option will give you a bigger payout.
4. List Down Your DependentsChildren below 18 years of age are eligible for up to 50% of their parent’s social security benefits. The same goes for those who become disabled before the age of 22. And even if your child is already 18, their benefits will continue if they are still in elementary or secondary school. With these, we can’t stress how important it is to list down all your qualified dependents if you want to maximize your benefits.
5. Minimize TaxesSocial security benefits form part of your taxable income. If you file taxes as an individual, you will pay taxes if your income is over $25,000 per year. Married couples who opt to file jointly will pay taxes for a combined income of more than $32,000. To minimize your taxes, calculate your annual income, including your social security benefits. If you’re married, include the annual revenue of your spouse along with his/her benefits (if any). Use this data to figure out which option will help you pay less taxes on your benefits. This financial calculator will help figure out how much taxes you’ll be paying on your social security income.
6. Explore Additional BenefitsMost of those who are eligible for disability benefits will also qualify for other additional benefits. Some of the benefits you might be eligible for are:
- Spousal Benefits
- Survivor Benefits
- Parent’s Benefits
- Children’s Benefits
- Veterans Benefits
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
7. Hire an Experienced LawyerAccording to the SSA, hiring a representative is not required, but it will make things so much easier. An experienced workers compensation lawyer like Victor Malca can help you determine more accurately which benefits you should apply for. He has already helped thousands of injured workers across Florida get the full amount of benefits they rightfully deserve. His more than two decades of experience in the field will also help you get your application approved faster. Contact us now for a free consultation.
VICTOR MALCA LAW – A TRUSTED NAME IN FLORIDAVictor Malca P.A. has over 27 years of litigation experience in Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability lawsuits. His experience and continued success in fighting for his clients puts among the most trusted workers’ compensation lawyers in Florida. Our area of expertise is in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claim social security disability benefits. Our unwavering advocacy for employee rights and privileges are recognized by our past clients across South Florida. Book a free consultation today.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Judy Ponio is a writer for Victor Malca Law P.A. and enjoys helping people with questions about social security, workers compensation, and other serious matters involving people’s livelihood. She is not an attorney and her writing should not be considered legal advice.