FOR LAWYERS

Earnings Record

By
Josef Rappaport
/
December 20, 2022

The term "earnings record" refers to the record of an individual's employment and income over their lifetime, as reported to the Social Security Administration (SSA). This record is used to determine an individual's eligibility for social security disability benefits, as well as the amount of those benefits.

Understanding your earnings record is important if you are considering applying for social security disability benefits. In this article, we will explain how earnings records are used to determine disability benefits and provide some key takeaways to help you understand this important aspect of the disability application process.

Key Takeaways

  • Earnings records are used to determine an individual's eligibility for disability benefits and the amount of those benefits.
  • The number of credits an individual has is based on their earnings and is used to determine their eligibility for disability benefits.
  • Average monthly earnings are calculated based on the individual's highest-earning 35 years of work and are used to determine the number of disability benefits.
  • SSI is a need-based program that provides financial assistance to individuals with low income and few assets and does not require an individual to have a certain number of credits. However, an individual's earnings record can still affect the amount of SSI benefits they receive.

How Earnings Records Are Used to Determine Disability Benefits

The SSA uses an individual's earnings record to determine their eligibility for social security disability benefits and the amount of those benefits. To be eligible for disability benefits, an individual must have a certain number of credits, which are based on their earnings. The number of credits required to be eligible for benefits depends on the individual's age at the time they become disabled.

In addition to the number of credits, the SSA also considers the individual's average monthly earnings when determining the amount of disability benefits. Average monthly earnings are calculated based on the individual's highest-earning 35 years of work. If the individual has not worked for 35 years, the SSA will use the actual number of years the individual has worked.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Supplemental security income (SSI) is a need-based program that provides financial assistance to individuals who are disabled, blind, or over the age of 65 and have low income and few assets. SSI is different from social security disability insurance (SSDI), which is a program that provides benefits to individuals who are unable to work due to a disability and have a sufficient work history.

Unlike SSDI, SSI does not require an individual to have a certain number of credits. Instead, the SSA considers the individual's income and assets when determining their eligibility for SSI. However, an individual's earnings record can still be important for SSI because it can affect the amount of SSI benefits they receive.

Understanding your earnings record is important if you are considering applying for social security disability benefits. By understanding how your earnings record is used to determine your eligibility and benefit amount, you can better prepare for the disability application process and make informed decisions about your financial future.

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