How Much Money Can You Make on Social Security?

Millions of people rely on Social Security earnings during retirement or at least to supplement their retirement benefits, sometimes even before retirement age. But how much money can you make on Social Security, and how long does it last?

Keep reading to learn about Social Security income and eligibility requirements, including the retirement age and how it works.

How Much Can You Earn While Receiving Social Security?

How much Social Security you earn depends on your lifetime income. Of course, the more money you make while working, the more you’ll receive from the Social Security monthly benefit, but the retirement age you take benefits plays a role too.

Each year, the maximum Federal Supplemental Security Income payment adjusts with the cost of living. This is the maximum amount of earnings anyone can receive each year, but the amount you receive depends on certain factors.

How Much Does the Average Person Receive from Social Security?

For 2023, the Social Security amounts for eligible individuals are $914 and $1,371 for an individual with a spouse. These amounts are inflation-protected and adjust annually to ensure Americans have adequate retirement benefits.

What do the Social Security Amounts Depend on, and How Will I Know What I’ll Receive?

The first and most important factor the Social Security Administration considers for eligibility is if you are of full retirement age. Full Retirement Age (FRA) is the age you’ll receive 100% of your benefits and is 66 if you were born between 1943 – 1954. After that, the full retirement age increases by two months for each year you were born after 1954; for anyone born after 1960, the full retirement age is 67.

If you retire before your Full Retirement Age, you’ll receive a percentage of your full benefit, depending on the age you take it.

Since each situation differs, the only way to tell how much you’ll get is to use the My Social Security Account tool to determine your current and future earnings.

Can you Work While Living on Social Security Retirement Funds?

You can work while on Social Security and earn an income, but to be considered ‘fully retired,’ your wages must not exceed the annual earnings limit. The Social Security Administration adjusts the earnings caps each year based on the national wage trends. 

Does Income Affect your Social Security Benefits?

If your income exceeds the annual earnings cap for Social Security benefits, you’ll lose $1 of retirement benefits for every $2 your income exceeds the cap.

For example, if your wages are $5,000 more than the earnings cap, you’ll lose $2,500 in annual Social Security benefits or $416.67 per month. Remember that the monthly cap pertains to your gross income, not income after taxes.

How Much Money can you Make on Social Security Disability?

Social Security Disability is insurance you pay into during your working years that the Social Security Administration handles. If you become disabled and can no longer work, you might earn Social Security Disability Insurance pay for yourself and your dependents. You don’t have to be of full retirement age. Still, the disability must last for over a year and prevent you from doing your current work or adjusting work to accommodate your disability.

The average person in 2022 on disability received $1,358 per month in disability earnings, and the maximum amount anyone could receive is a $3,345 monthly benefit. How much you receive greatly depends on how much you’ve earned up until you were disabled.

Is Social Security Enough to Keep me Living Comfortably or Cover my Medical Bills?

The average monthly Social Security benefit is $1,547.87 per month, including those receiving Social Security Disability insurance benefits. Social Security might be enough to keep you comfortable without a housing payment and below-average living expenses, but then there are medical bills.

You aren’t eligible for Medicare until age 65, and the free portion of Medicare only covers basic hospitalization. It doesn’t cover doctor’s visits, medicine, or other treatments. Medicare Part B has a premium, as does Part D, if you want prescription coverage.  

Social Security income is meant to supplement your retirement savings rather than be your sole source of income.

Do you Pay Taxes on Social Security?

You don’t automatically pay taxes on Social Security income earnings. It depends on a few factors:

  • If you file taxes individually and have a combined income of over $25,000, you’ll pay income tax on SSI benefits
  • If you file taxes jointly and have a combined income of over $32,000, you’ll pay income tax on SSI benefits

Your combined income includes your adjusted gross income from work, investments, or any businesses plus one-half of your Social Security income.

Does Social Security Count as Income?

You must report your Social Security income on your tax returns, on line 6b of the 1040, whether or not you’ve reached full retirement age. This doesn’t mean your income is immediately taxable, though. It’s only taxable if your income, including Social Security, exceeds the limits above.

When do you Stop Receiving Social Security?

Social Security benefits last for as long as you live. You can outlive your retirement funds and savings, but you’ll never have to worry about losing Social Security income, even if you take your earnings before your full retirement age.

How can Trajector Help Me?

Getting your Social Security benefits can feel overwhelming and confusing. Many people give up on the process because they don’t understand what they’re entitled to and what the Social Security Administration needs, especially if they need Social Security Disability benefits and not benefits because they’ve reached retirement age.

Trajector can help you through the process, ensuring you have all the evidence needed to obtain the SSI you deserve. No one should fight the battle alone or feel like they don’t deserve the benefits. You worked for them, and we will help you get them.

Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Considered a Disability?

Rheumatoid arthritis disability (RA) is often misleadingly linked to simply aging. On the contrary, RA is an autoimmune disease. While it’s more common in the elderly due to the natural deterioration of our bones and joints, RA affects up to two percent of the world’s population. Moreover, it doesn’t discriminate on age-it can also affect younger people’s lives.

RA is a type of inflammatory arthritis that can lead to functional disability. As with all autoimmune diseases, the condition appears when your body’s defense works against you rather than for you. A balanced diet and regular exercise can help prevent your chances of developing RA. Still, genetics play a massive part in this condition, so there’s no surefire way to prevent or stop the onset should you be unfortunate enough to be struck with the disease.

RA symptoms to look out for if you suspect you might have arthritis would be pain and swelling in your fingers and toes, but you may also experience joint pain in the knees, elbows, shoulders, ankles, wrists, thighs, and spine. This is because RA impacts the synovial fluid around the joints, which causes them to become inflamed, and may lead to deterioration of the bone, joint damage, and eventually, in severe cases, can result in permanent disfigurement.

Once diagnosed with this medical condition, it’s possible to stem the tide of RA by building muscle around the affected areas, maintaining healthy body weight, and engaging in regular low-impact exercise.

Is rheumatoid arthritis a disability?

It entirely depends on the extent that you suffer from arthritis as to whether it will be considered a work disability or not in the eyes of the SSA. For the SSA to consider RA a valid disability, then you would have to prove that the severity of your arthritis precludes you from being able to work. This includes not being able to perform sedentary occupations like working at a desk job.

In short, if you can demonstrate that you have difficulties in performing everyday tasks, which prevent you from holding down a full-time job, then the SSA will consider your medical condition a work disability.

Can you work with rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a long term disability, and although there are no cures for it, it’s not a death sentence. You cannot die from RA, but it can certainly impact your quality of life and perhaps your ability to work. Another myth is that a patient will get gradually worse with time. While this can often be true, it’s never a foregone conclusion, and actually, there may be no degeneration at all. In some cases, a patient can see their RA improve significantly over time with the right diet, exercise, and treatment.

Nobody dreams of staying home watching daytime television all day, so if you’re asking yourself if you can work with rheumatoid arthritis, no one will blame you. The answer is, of course, determined by how your condition disrupts your ability to perform routine tasks.

Therefore, should your condition be mild enough, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to work. On the contrary, you will be expected to work if the disease isn’t severe enough. This is known as substantial gainful activity (SGA).

Substantial gainful activity is defined as work that (1) involves doing significant and productive mental or physical activity and (2) is done for pay or profit.

If you suffer from severe fatigue, struggle with common tasks, or experience pain while performing routine work duties and daily activities, whether working in a physically active role or even in a sedentary position. It may not be a choice whether you can work or not. In this case, it would be inevitable that you would have to apply for Social Security Disability (SSD).

 Your eligibility for social security disability insurance

So what conditions automatically qualify you for disability[1]? Among the types of conditions automatically entitled to SSD are musculoskeletal problems and autoimmune disease, meaning conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis qualify. 

You may be eligible for SSD Rheumatoid Arthritis benefit if you fulfill the criteria laid down in the Social Security Administration blue book listing 14.0 and can provide the medical evidence required, such as medical records history, physical examination report, or laboratory reports as necessary.

Beyond proving that your condition precludes you from working in a full-time job, there are still a number of hurdles you have to face, such as your annual income, the disease duration, the length of time you’ve been employed, and the requisite amount of work credits next to your name.

How much in benefits can I receive if I qualify?

If entitled to SSDI benefits, then you may be awarded up to $40k per annum. The final sum will depend on your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME) and how much social security you have paid on your income to date.

You may still be entitled to receive benefits if you are able to work a little bit. This is, of course, dependent on how much you earn. If your SGA falls below the set threshold, then you may still be able to apply.

How do you apply for disability?

First of all, consult the bluebook to determine whether your condition meets the requirements for social security disability benefits. It’s then recommended to make an appointment with your family physician to establish the medical evidence needed to submit your disability claim. You will then need to contact the SSA to apply, which can be done online, over the phone at 1-800-772-1213, or by going to your local SSA office if you prefer to speak to someone face-to-face. You may also find it beneficial to consult a disability lawyer such as Trajector to oversee your claim and take the pain out of the process.

How can Trajector help me?

Social security benefits can be a minefield to navigate, and a staggering 70% of applications submitted for social security disability benefits are initially rejected every year. Trajector boasts over 20 years of experience facilitating the disability application process, with our experts providing specialist guidance and support to our clients, so they receive what they are legally and ethically entitled to.

Veterans Burial Benefits

When you’re a spouse or family member of a veteran, you might need to understand the burial benefits you get, if the service member passes away. Veterans and their families are entitled to specific benefits that cover many different things. Family members offer burial benefits to help cover the cost of a funeral, burial, and more.

If your spouse is an active duty service member or a veteran, you should know the VA burial benefits you’re entitled to. Let’s look at the benefits you gain for a national cemetery, a private cemetery, and the other veteran’s burial benefits you can access.

What Type of Burial and Death Benefits are Available to Families of Veterans?

There are several different veterans benefits available for burial and death. While this is certainly not a pleasant topic to discuss, it’s one you should understand. Burial and death benefits can help you in many ways if your active duty service member or veteran has passed. The benefits you can gain vary a bit, but here are the main burial benefits offered to veterans.

Veterans Burial Allowance

The most common VA benefit for death and burial is the burial allowance. It’s sometimes referred to as the Veterans death benefits. This allowance will help cover the funeral, burial, and transportation costs.

If you’re an eligible veteran, you can get a burial allowance for burial and funeral costs, along with a VA plot or an allowance for the cost of a plot in a private cemetery. It’s also possible to get reimbursement for the cost of transporting the Veteran’s remains to the final resting place.

It’s important to note that you will have to pay for these services and apply for the burial allowance to reimburse you. This must be done within two years of the burial or cremation of the veteran.

To be eligible for VA burial benefits and burial benefits, you’ll need to be the surviving spouse, the surviving partner, surviving child, surviving parent, or executor or administrator of the Veteran’s estate. The Veteran also cannot have a dishonorable discharge and must meet one of the following eligibility requirements:

  • Died as a result of a service-connected disability.
  • Died while receiving VA care at a VA facility or a facility contracted by Veterans Affairs.
  • Died while traveling with authorization at the Veterans Affairs expense to or from a facility for treatment or case.
  • Died while receiving a Veteran pension or was eligible for a VA pension or compensation at the time of death, but chose to receive disability pay or full military retirement.

If you’re on active duty, serving as a member of Congress, or serving a federal prison sentence, you won’t be eligible for the burial allowance benefit.

What is the Burial Allowance Amount?

The amount you will get as a burial allowance will depend on whether the death was a service-connected or non-service-connected death. It also depends on when the veteran died.

For service-connected deaths, the amount will be $1,500 or $2,000, along with some or all of the transportation costs to a VA national cemetery. When it’s a non-service-connected death, the amount can vary based on when the veteran died. You will get a $300 burial allowance and $734 to $893 for a plot. This amount can go up if Veterans Affairs hospitalized the veteran at the time of their death.

You can also get a headstone or marker allowance along with the burial allowance. This allowance will also vary based on when the veteran passed away. It can range from $199 to $290. Of course, all of these dollar amounts can change based on the amount of burial compensation and other allowances the government authorizes each year.

Memorial Items

Veterans are entitled to more than just benefits to help pay for burial and funeral services. They can also get specific memorial items to honor the military service of your veteran. When a veteran or eligible family member is buried in a national cemetery, or in a qualifying veterans cemetery, you can get an allowance for a headstone or marker, but you can also get other memorial items.

The following items are all memorial items veterans may qualify for:

  • Veteran’s headstones and markers – You can get an allowance for a headstone or markers. These memorial items may also be available for National Guard members and reservists. You will need to fill out the right VA form to find out what you might be eligible.
  • Medallions – Veterans and active-duty military service members can potentially get a medallion when buried in a private cemetery. If a headstone or marker was privately purchased, you may be able to get a bronze medallion or a Medal of Honor, if eligible.
  • Burial flag – A United States flag will be provided to be draped on the casket or coffin be placed with an urn in honor of the Veteran’s military service. A burial flag will be provided if the Veteran is eligible.
  • Presidential Memorial Certificates – Some Veterans may qualify for a Presidential Memorial Certificate (PMC), which is an engraved paper certificate that the current president will sign.

Bereavement Counseling

While having your Veteran buried in a national cemetery and getting an allowance for the funeral and burial are great benefits, bereavement counseling should not be overlooked. This is a benefit specifically for the surviving spouse, children, and parents of a military service member that has passed away while serving their country.

When this happens, you may qualify for bereavement counseling through the Veteran’s Center. With this type of counseling, you can get the support and assistance you need when going through this very psychological and emotional stress, after the death of an armed forces veteran.

Bereavement counseling or grief counseling is available to a surviving spouse, child, or parent of a military service member that fits one of the following:

  • An armed forces member who passed away while serving their country
  • A reservist who died while on active duty
  • A National Guard member who died during active duty
  • A veteran who was receiving services from the Vet Center when they passed away

While the funeral and burial benefits are helpful, getting the grief counseling you need can make a big difference.

Along with these three main veterans’ benefits for burial and death, you can also get pre-need burial eligibility for burial in a VA national cemetery. Veterans can apply in advance to find out if they are eligible to be buried in a VA national cemetery. This benefit makes it easier for your family members to handle the burial planning process.

Eligibility for Pre-Need Burial Benefits

There are a few eligibility requirements if you want to be buried in a VA national cemetery. Veterans who were not dishonorably discharged when they left the military are eligible for burial in a national cemetery. Some family members may also be eligible including spouses and dependent children, even if the Veteran has already passed away. In some cases, an adult-dependent child can also be eligible.

How can I make sure I Gain Access to All the Benefits I am Entitled to in this Case?

One of the best ways to gain all the benefits you’re entitled to is to use a Veterans service like Trajector. When you want to ensure you get a full allowance for the funeral and burial, we can help. Our team will ensure you get the benefits you are entitled to, from burial in a national cemetery to the proper military funeral honors for your loved one.

VA Survivor Benefits

When your spouse or parent has served in the United States Military and passed away during active duty, you are entitled to certain VA survivor benefits. The government provides surviving spouses and surviving children with benefits since their family members made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Before you attempt to qualify for surviving spouse benefits, a survivor’s pension, or any other survivor benefits, it’s best to know what you might qualify for. Let’s look at some of the most common questions and the answers to the benefits you may get as a survivor.

What are Veteran’s Survivor Benefits?

You may qualify for many benefits when you are a spouse or dependent of a veteran. If the veteran passes away, you may qualify for VA survivor benefits. Some of the benefits given to the dependents and spouses of veterans continue as survivor benefits, in this case.

The survivor benefits you may be entitled to include:

  • Health care for surviving spouses and surviving dependents
  • Education and training for surviving spouses and surviving dependents
  • Home Loan Programs or Financial Counseling for surviving spouses
  • Life insurance options, claims, and beneficiary assistance for surviving spouses and dependents
  • Pre-need eligibility determination for burial in a VA national cemetery for surviving spouses and dependents
  • Burial benefits and memorial items for surviving spouses, surviving dependents, and surviving parents
  • Survivors’ pension for surviving spouses and surviving dependents
  • Compensation for surviving spouses, dependents, and parents known as the DIC benefit

These benefits are provided if a veteran has suffered death during active duty.

How Much Does the Government Provide for the Surviving Family of a Veteran?

The amount of VA survivor and death benefits provided by the government depends on the individual benefit and the circumstances. Each benefit is a bit different and provides a surviving spouse or child of the veteran a certain amount. Let’s look at each individual benefit to see what you might be entitled to as a survivor.

Health Care

As a surviving spouse or child, you may qualify for health care through the CHAMPVA program, the TRICARE program, or another program.

Education and Training

A surviving spouse or child may be eligible for help paying for job training or school through the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance Program, known as Chapter 35.

Home Loan Programs or Financial Counseling

A surviving spouse may qualify for the VA home loan program for buying, building, refinancing, or repairing a home. To qualify, you will need to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) through the Veterans Affairs office. This benefit can also help those struggling to make payments on a VA-backed loan to help with avoiding foreclosure.

Life Insurance Options, Claims, and Beneficiary Assistance

Eligible survivors can apply for the Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) coverage and access various coverage options. You can also get free financial advice if you’re a beneficiary of a Veteran’s or service member’s policy.

Pre-need eligibility Determination for Burial in a VA National Cemetery

Another VA benefit offered to eligible survivors allows you to apply to be buried in a VA national cemetery in advance. This can help make things easier on the family during the burial process.

Burial Benefits and Memorial Items

Veterans benefits also include step-by-step guidance when planning a burial in a VA national cemetery, or in a state-sponsored veterans cemetery. Surviving spouses, children, and parents can also apply for help with the burial costs and request memorial items.

Survivors Pension

If you’re a surviving spouse or child of a veteran with wartime service, you might be eligible for a survivor pension, also known as a death pension. This VA benefit provides a monthly pension payment if you’re an eligible survivor.

Compensation for Surviving Spouse and Dependents (DIC Benefits)

DIC benefits are tax-free monetary benefits offered for a surviving spouse, child, or parent of a veteran who died in the line of duty or from a service-related illness or injury.

How Much is the Death Pension Benefit for a Surviving Spouse or Child?

Before you figure out how much the death pension might be, it’s important to look at the eligibility requirements. You may be eligible for a VA survivor’s pension, if:

  • The deceased veteran was discharged from service under any circumstances other than dishonorable conditions.
  • The deceased veteran served for at least 24 months on active duty with at least one day of wartime service.
  • You are the deceased veteran’s non-remarried surviving spouse or the unmarried child.
  • You have a combined net worth and income of less than $138,489.

All four of these eligibility requirements must be met to receive a VA survivor’s pension. However, your net worth will not include your house or any vehicles. It includes your investments, furniture, and things like furniture.

If you are eligible to receive a death pension payment, you will receive the following:

  • $9,896 for a surviving spouse with no dependent children
  • $12,951 for a surviving spouse with one dependent child and $2,523 for each additional child
  • $12,094 for a housebound surviving spouse with no dependents
  • $15,144 for a housebound surviving spouse with one dependent
  • $15,816 for a surviving spouse in need of aid with no dependents
  • $18,867 for a surviving spouse in need of aid with one dependent
  • $2,523 for a surviving child with no eligible parent

This amount will vary based on income requirements. However, some income will not be counted towards the yearly limit, including welfare benefits, social security, medical costs, and some wages earned by surviving dependents. You must fill out VA Form 21-534 to apply for death pension benefits.

Am I eligible for DIC as a surviving spouse or dependent?

Another monetary benefit you might qualify for is known as the VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation or VA DIC. This benefit is available for surviving spouses, children, and parents, with different eligibility requirements. If you qualify, you may receive a tax-free monetary benefit.

The 2022 DIC rates for spouses, children, and parents vary quite a bit, depending on many factors. As a surviving spouse, your DIC monthly payment will start at $1,437.66. It can be as high as $3,117.42 per month, depending on several factors.

As a surviving child, the monthly payment rate will start at $607.02. However, this can be less if the child is between 18 and 23 and is in a qualified school program. Other factors can change the amount a surviving child may receive monthly.

Surviving parent rates will depend on the income level of the parent. You must be the only parent alive to qualify for these benefits.

Get the Help You Need When Applying for Survivor Benefits

Applying for veterans’ benefits as a surviving spouse or child can be difficult. Without the right help, you might not gain access to everything you’re entitled to. Trajector provides the help you need when getting the benefits you deserve.

With various experts on our team, you can gain access to the help you need when working with the Veterans Affairs Office. We can help you get the accrued benefits you are eligible for and all other survivor benefits you qualify for.

What Benefits do Spouses of Deceased Veterans Get

You might be entitled to some benefits when you go through the horrific experience of losing your spouse. If your spouse was a veteran with active duty military service, the government provides some benefits for the surviving spouse.

Before you contact the Veteran’s Affairs Office, it’s a good idea to understand the benefits you might be entitled to. Let’s look at some of the common questions surrounding the question, what benefits do spouses of diseased veterans get?

Does the Government Provide for Spouses of Deceased Veterans?

The short answer to this question is yes. There are spouse benefits offered for the surviving spouse of a veteran that suffers death during active duty and in a few other circumstances.

Understanding the benefits you can get as a surviving spouse is important. There are several different benefits you might qualify for, including:

  • Health Care through the CHAMPVA Program or the TRICARE Program
  • Education and Training, including help paying for job training or schooling
  • Home Loan Programs to purchase, repair, refinance, or build a home
  • Financial Counseling to help with paying a VA-backed loan
  • Life Insurance benefits through the Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance coverage options
  • Burial Benefits, including memorial items and pre-need eligibility for burial in a VA national cemetery
  • Survivor’s pension provides monthly pension payments
  • VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation or DIC benefits offer tax-free monetary payments

These benefits are provided for the surviving spouse of a veteran, and all come with different eligibility requirements. Understanding all the benefits you might qualify for as a surviving spouse is important. While the most common benefit is the survivor’s pension, there are other benefits you can use for burial, health care, and helping in other ways.

What Type of Survivors Pension can I Receive?

The survivor’s pension you receive will depend on some specific factors. This is also known as a death pension. A VA survivors’ pension will provide monthly payments if you are a qualified surviving spouse. This should not be confused with the DIC benefits, which differ from a survivor’s pension.

To be eligible for this benefit, at least one of the following must be true:

  • The veteran began active duty on or before September 7, 1980, and was a service member on active duty for at least 90 days with at least one day of wartime service.
  • The veteran entered active duty after September 7, 1980, and has at least 24 months of active duty service with at least one day of wartime service. Some exceptions do apply to this qualification.
  • The veteran was an officer that started active duty after October 16, 1981, and hadn’t previously served on active duty for at least 24 months.

Along with the requirements above, your yearly family income and net worth will have to meet the limits set by Congress. Your home, car, and most home furnishings will not be counted in your net worth.

The wartime periods that are recognized for this benefit include:

  • Mexican Border period from May 9, 1916, to April 5, 1917
  • World War I from April 6, 1917, to November 11, 1918
  • World War II from December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946
  • Korean Conflict from June 27, 1950, to January 31, 1955
  • Vietnam War Era from November 1, 1955, to May 7, 1975
  • Gulf War from August 2, 1990, through a future date that will b set by presidential proclamation or by law

You can receive a survivor’s pension if you qualify as a surviving spouse.

VA Survivors Pension Rates

The rate for your survivor’s pension will depend on the difference between your countable income and the limit set by Congress. The limit set by Congress is called the Maximum Annual Pension Rate or MAPR.

Your countable income is the amount you earn, which will include your salary, payments from investments, and retirement payments. It can also include any income you may get from dependents in your household. Expenses, such as non-reimbursable medical expenses may reduce your countable income.

The MAPR amount will be the maximum VA pension amount payable to a Veteran, surviving spouse, or child set by Congress. This varies based on how many dependents you will have, if you’re Housebound, or if you require Aid or Attendance benefits. It changes yearly based on a cost-of-living increase.

It’s also important to note that there is a net worth limit for eligibility for this benefit. The current limit is $138,489 and can change from year to year.

The yearly survivor’s pension amount will range from $12,941 to $19,438, based on your specific situation, including your dependents.

Will the Cost of a Funeral for the Veteran be Covered?

With the high cost of funerals, you probably want to know if a funeral for a veteran will be covered. There are a few things to look at:

What will Veteran’s Affairs Cover for Burial and Funeral Costs?

The VA benefit for burial will cover some of the costs, but often it will not cover all of the costs. This is paid through a burial and plot allowance for eligible veteran family members.

The burial allowance offers a tax-free benefit that will automatically be paid for veterans of the armed forces that have suffered death. You will have to provide the Veterans Affairs Office with receipts to show the actual cost paid.

The actual benefit amount will depend on how the service member’s death occurred.

  • If the death happened during hospitalization by the VA, you get an $828 burial allowance and $828 for a burial plot.
  • If the death is service-connected, the VA will pay a burial allowance up to $2,000 and may provide reimbursement for some transportation costs.
  • If the death is not service-connected, the burial allowance will be $300 with $828 provided for a burial plot.
  • For any indigent veteran with no next of kin, the VA will provide a casket or cremation urn for interment in a national, state, or tribal veterans cemetery.

You can also get a death benefit payment of $255 from the Social Security Administration. These amounts will likely change every year.

All veterans with other-than-dishonorable discharges can gain access to free burial in a national VA cemetery. However, space is limited, so the VA suggests you request pre-determination of burial eligibility to avoid delay.

Surviving spouses are often eligible to be buried next to the veteran at no or no cost. A marker will also be provided.

Can I get DIC Benefits as a Surviving Spouse?

Yes, a dependency and indemnity compensation or DIC benefit will be paid to the surviving spouse of a military service member who died in the line of duty or died from a service-connected illness or condition during active duty. The DIC benefit often helps the surviving spouse more than any other death benefit.

DIC benefits offer monthly tax-free payments to the surviving spouse for the rest of their life. The base rate is $1,437.66 and can go up based on the situation.

How can I Access this Help?

Applying for health care benefits, a survivor’s pension, and the many other benefits through the veteran’s service can be overwhelming. You might not get all the benefits you’re eligible for if you don’t understand what you’re applying for.

Trajector provides the assistance you need when applying for surviving spouse benefits. We can help you navigate the entire process, from choosing the VA form you need to fill out to advising you of the benefits you should apply for.

SSI Restoration Act

In June 2021, Sherrod Brown reintroduced the Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act to bring the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program up to date. The federal SSI program provides nearly 8 million Americans who are elderly, disabled, or with limited resources with income assistance to provide basic needs. However, the program is long overdue for an update, since the SSI benefits received are only a fraction of what is needed to live on. 

Senator Brown said: “The promise of Social Security is to ensure that no one in America should live in poverty—least of all our nation’s seniors and people with disabilities…Congress must prioritize these long-overdue reforms as part of upcoming recovery legislation.” 

Brown called on the Biden Administration to make some much-needed changes to the SSI program, many elements supported by many other politicians, including President Biden. The bill is sponsored by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Robert Casey (D-PA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ed Markey (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Tina Smith (D-MN).

The bill has also been endorsed by Justice in Aging, AARP, AFL-CIO, AFSCME Retirees, Easter Seals, United Auto Workers (UAW), Leading Age, Homeless Action Center, Medicare Rights Center, National Alliance to End Homelessness, National Center for Law & Economic Justice, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM), National Council on Aging, National Low Income Housing Coalition, National Women’s Law Center, New York Legal Assistance Group, Social Security Works, Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders (SAGE), Strengthen Social Security Coalition, the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement, and more.

The Restoration Act comprises many elements, all designed to improve the living situation of those receiving SSI benefits. Some of these changes include:

  • Raising SSI benefits to $794, a 31% increase from $585, to keep up with inflation.
  • Eliminate benefit reductions from those receiving in-kind assistance from friends or family for living expenses.
  • Eliminate the marriage penalty, which will allow couples to have double the benefits of an individual instead of just 1.5 the amount an individual would receive.
  • Update the assets individuals/couples may have while receiving benefits, which haven’t been updated since 1989.
  • Update the SSI income rules, which haven’t been updated since the law was passed in 1972. 

Changes for 2022

While the Restoration Act was designed to help SSI beneficiaries in many ways, 2022 has also brought a cost of living adjustment (COLA) change on basic needs. As of January 2022, there is a 5.9% cost of living adjustment (COLA). COLA is based on the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) from the third quarter of the last year, and is designed to prevent inflation from draining any benefits you would receive and keeping SSI recipients above the Federal poverty line. COLA hasn’t previously been this high since 1982, only coming close in 2009. The income cap has also been raised for both workers under the retirement age, and those of the retirement age. 

The President has also signed an executive order, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. The Executive Order requires all Federal agencies “to pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and other people who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.” This order will increase the collection of minority data, expand options for service delivery, decrease burdens of those who identify as gender diverse or transgender, ensure equitable access for unrepresented claimants in the disability application process, and more.

Lastly, Kilolo Kijakazi, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, announced 12 new Compassionate Allowances conditions. This program is designed to accelerate claims for those with a condition or disease which meets Social Security’s statutory standard for disability. These claims are often allowed based on medical diagnosis alone because of the severe nature of these conditions. More than 800,000 people with severe disabilities have been approved through this accelerated, policy-compliant disability process, which has grown to 266 conditions.

How Can Trajector Help Me?

Securing disability benefits can be a long and complicated journey, and Trajector is here to help. They help the disabled and at-risk population receive the benefits they are medically, legally, and ethically owed. Trajector can help you with cases about personal injury, disability, mental or physical health, insurance, homelessness, and more. For more information, visit Trajector to see if they’re a good fit for you.

How Many Hours Can You Work On SSI?

SSI stands for Supplemental Security Income, which are monthly benefits to people with limited income, people who are disabled, or people over the age of 65. It’s important to note that SSI and Social Security Benefits are two different things. Social Security Benefits are based on your prior work and are received after retirement, and SSI is for those who are disabled or with low income.

How Much are SSI Benefits?

Benefit amounts can change yearly, or according to your situation (disabilities, child support, long-term care, etc.). As of 2022, the Federal Benefit Rate is $841 for an individual and $1,261 for a couple. However, some states offer state supplemental payments in addition to SSI. 

Can You Work While on SSI?

Yes, you can work. However, the amount you work each month will be deducted from your SSI monthly benefits. If you choose to work, it’s important to report your total monthly income to the Social Security Administration. If you don’t, you could be overpaid, then have to repay your SSI money. In worst-case scenarios, you could be accused of fraud and may face criminal prosecution. 

How Do I Report My Earnings to the Social Security Administration?

If you are working, make sure that you copy every pay stub you receive and either mail it or drop it off at the Social Security Administration office. Make sure they stamp each pay stub so you have proof that you have reported them.

How Many Hours Can I Work on SSI?

The Social Security Administration will limit your benefits if you work, and here’s how. First, they will disregard the first $65 you make every month. If you make less than that, your benefits will not change. However, any money you make above the $65 line will be reduced from your SSI benefits by half. For example, if you make $165 a month, only $50 will be deducted from your SSI benefits. 

What if You Work While Disabled?

If you are disabled, some out-of-pocket expenses for certain items may be deducted from your income, which means they won’t be subtracted from your benefits. These items can be for your work, or for your day-to-day activities, such as medications, counseling, wheelchairs, car modifications, software applications, computer support systems, and more. 

What is SGA?

SGA stands for Substantial Gainful Activity, which describes a level of work activity and earnings. The SGA limit does not mean you work full-time; it means you can perform significant physical and/or mental activities to help you obtain income. If you are earning more than $1,350 per month, you are not considered disabled. If you are blind, there is a higher SGA limit of $2,260. 

What if You Receive an Overpayment Notice?

An overpayment is when you receive more money for a month than you should have received. This typically happens when you fail to report your income, or report it late. However, this can also come with a change in living situations, marital status, you have more resources than the allowable limit, etc. You will typically be notified by mail and must repay the excess balance within the month. If you feel like the overpayment was a mistake, you can request a reconsideration and appeal it. If you cannot pay the amount back, there are some scenarios where you can request a waiver. 

How Does SSI Affect My Other Programs?

In most states, if you receive SSI, you are eligible for Medicaid, and the application is the same. If you are in a state that does not offer them together, you can apply for Medicaid separately. If you receive SSI, then you are usually eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which allows you to purchase food. It is worth applying online or at your local Social Security office. In the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, each state determines their own eligibility rules. Typically if you are in the TANF program, you will only receive SSI if you are disabled, blind, or over 65.

How Can Trajector Help Me?

Securing disability benefits can be a long and complicated journey, and Trajector is here to help. They help the disabled and at-risk population receive the benefits they are medically, legally, and ethically owed. Trajector can help you with cases about personal injury, disability, mental or physical health, insurance, homelessness, and more. For more information, visit Trajector to see if they’re a good fit for you. We provide additional resources to help SSI recipients find the care and answers they need.

What Benefits Can Families Of Veterans Have?

Special honor is given to those who have rendered active duty and military service during the war. In several cases, a veteran is left with a disability or impairment that affects how the veteran’s daily activities. Many of them need the support of their family members or a caregiver to deal with day-to-day activities. 

The US Department of Veterans Affairs is dedicated to serving and catering to the needs of veterans and their dependents and carers. Veterans may avail of veteran or VA benefits, but they may also qualify for disability benefits if they face any disability related to the veteran’s service. VA benefits, specifically, extend to their spouse and children as well. 

Who Can Access VA Benefits?

While veterans are eligible for benefits, such benefits extend to their families (the veteran’s spouse and dependent child). Those who care for veterans can also be granted support to help them do the job better. 

Do veterans’ children receive benefits?

A veteran’s dependents (spouse and children) can qualify for veteran/VA benefits. These veterans’ children’s benefits and spouse benefits can include health care aid, tuition assistance, or other forms of financial aid. 

How About Those Who Take Care Of Veterans?


Those who take care of veterans may also avail benefits that help them care for them more effectively. On top of that, caretakers also get benefits directly for themselves. 

How do I know if I am eligible?

If you are a veteran or the spouse, child, or carer of veterans, how do you know if you are eligible for these benefits? 

The eligibility requirements may differ depending on the veteran’s benefits and on the case for each veteran. 

The US Department of Veterans Affairs official site lists eligibility requirements for the specific benefit. 

Eligibility for health care benefits

For health care benefits, for example, these are the conditions for eligibility. 

  1. If the veteran’s enlistment date is after September 7, 1980, or if the veteran started active duty after October 16, 1981 
  2. The minimum duty requirement does not apply if the following conditions are true: 
  • Discharged due to disability that was caused or aggravated by active duty
  • Discharged due to difficulty or “early out” 
  • Was an active service member before September 7, 1980
  1. If the person is currently or formerly a service member for the selected reserve or National Guard 

Eligibility for disability compensation

Disability compensation is also available if these conditions for eligibility are met.

  1. The veteran’s current injury or illness impacts the body or mind.
  2.  The veteran served inactive duty training, active duty for training, or active duty. 

Both of these two conditions must be met. If only one is satisfied, eligibility is not possible. 

While those two are non-negotiable conditions, at least one of the following conditions should also be met. 

  1. The former service member got an injury or sickness during military service. This condition can be connected to current injury or illness (also known as Inservice Disability Claim) 
  2. The veteran had an injury or sickness before joining the military, and service with the army aggravated the condition (also known as Preservice Disability Claim).
  3. The veteran got a disability that is directly related to active duty service. However, this condition did not appear until after the term of service (also known as Postservice Disability claim) 

What is available to the family of those who have served?

According to the US Department of Veteran Affairs, the benefits for the dependents (spouse, children, and survivors) include the following.

  • Health care
  • Educational benefits (tuition and other forms of aid under the GI bill) 
  • Employment
  • Home loans
  • Financial Counseling
  • Options for life insurance
  • Burial in a VA national cemetery (for the eligible veteran)
  • Survivors pension
  • Compensation for survivors

How can I access dependent benefits?

Similar to the case for eligibility, the process of availing these benefits and accessing claims varies from case to case. While there is a VA form that the veteran has to fill up, claiming a health benefit, education benefit, or a different kind of benefit has a special process.

Hence, it is important for you first to know your eligibility and then proceed with the actual application process. 

Applying for VA health care

The application process for health benefits is online through the US Department of Veteran Affairs official site. However, before proceeding with the application, you should prepare the following. 

  • Social Security identification numbers of the veteran, spouse, and eligible dependents
  • DD214 (military discharge paper) or other valid separation documents 
  • Card information for all affiliated insurances of the veteran or the veteran’s spouse 
  • Gross household income during the previous calendar for the veteran, spouse, and dependents 
  • Deductible expenses during the previous year (i.e. health expenses, education costs) 

The veteran or the one proceeding with the application should have this information before starting the application process. 

Claiming disability compensation

If you are eligible for disability compensation, you can apply to claim this compensation online, by mail, in person, or by tapping a professional. 

Before proceeding, however, you must ensure that you have evidence to support your claims for eligibility to make things easier. These could be public or private hospital records that reveal your condition and statements from family members, relatives, friends, clergy members, law enforcement personnel, and fellow veterans. These statements and documents should give insight into the condition and how it worsened. 

While submitting evidence is not required, the US Department of Veterans Affairs may conduct a claim exam to know more about your condition. 

If you plan to process these claims through paper, it may help if you pass an “Intent to File” form first. Submitting this file will allow you time to collect evidence without delaying the start date or effective date. With an intent to file, it is also possible to obtain retroactive payments or compensations for the past months. 

The road to a successful claim 

Processing and applying are quite tedious processes. What makes things worse, however, is the possibility of rejection. Even if you file your claim and apply for benefits, the Department of Veterans Affairs may reject your claims. 

How can Trajector help me?

We at Trajector can help you face this problem by guiding you through the application process and serving as your legal representative. Our team at Trajector Medical, Trajector Disability, and Trajector Legal can work with you to process your application and claims for veteran benefits. 

With us, you can rest assured that your claims have higher chances of success.

California Pregnancy Disability Leave

What is pregnancy leave?

Congratulations, you’re pregnant! (Or, maybe someone you know is, and you’re reading this to help them.)

Pregnancy is an exciting but also a difficult time in many ways, especially for the women who are expecting. Pregnancy and childbirth can sometimes exacerbate existing medical conditions, or even cause entirely new and unexpected ones to appear. I can make things that used to be simple and easy a difficult or even dangerous process. This is especially true for women who are involved in work that might cause some danger to them or their baby.

Fortunately, that’s where pregnancy leave comes into play. Like other forms of medical leave or disability leave, pregnancy disability leave is a program that provides pregnant people with some financial benefits while they are pregnant and can no longer fulfill their normal work duties safely.

Since pregnancy can qualify as a temporary form of disability, especially in the later months, systems are in place in California and other locations to help those who might experience a loss in income during part of their pregnancy.

How can I apply for pregnancy disability leave?

Parental leave isn’t quite the same as sick leave, but the application process is similar. It requires medical approval from a doctor stating that you shouldn’t be working during the pregnancy; this statement ensures fair employment and treatment throughout the pregnancy, childbirth, and bonding time with the child.

The disability application process should begin as soon as your medical provider asserts that you should no longer be working due to your pregnancy, that your normal job requirements would no longer be safe while you are pregnant, or when they certify that you need to limit your hours of work due to a pregnancy-related disability.

You will want to speak with your healthcare professional (who must be a licensed professional) about your normal work duties and make sure that they are aware of anything that could impact your health or your baby’s health during pregnancy; you can ask them specifically if you think you might qualify for pregnancy disability leave or that you will need it.

Your healthcare advisor should be able to provide you with the certifications you need and point you in the right direction to start your application so that you can begin receiving benefits.

What are the benefits of pregnancy leave for California employees?

California pregnancy disability leave benefits normally cover the 4 weeks before your expected delivery and the 6 to 8 weeks directly afterward, as you recover. However, some cases will be different, with longer periods of time possible for this coverage. It all depends on many factors, such as where you work, what you do there, your health and the baby’s condition, any pre-existing risk factors, and your medical professional’s advice.

For those who would not safely be able to work in their normal jobs before that 4-week period begins, benefits may start earlier; on the other hand, for those experiencing medical complications after the delivery, benefits may extend after the typical recovery period. 

Does California offer maternity leave?

Yes, California law offers eligible pregnant employees maternity leave, though not under that specific name. California’s Paid Family Leave is parental bonding leave for a new child (among other events, such as caring for a seriously ill family member). Paid Family Leave is different from pregnancy disability leave—it is there to give you some time to take care of and bond with your newborn(s).

Suppose you apply for it and your application is accepted. In that case, Paid Family Leave provides paid leave for up to 8 weeks, with the payments offering from 60 to 70 percent of your pre-leave income with the last 5 to 18 months; this leave won’t fully cover your wages, but it can be much better than nothing when you need to take some additional time off from work.

If you have been receiving pregnancy disability leave benefits, you should receive information about applying for Paid Family Leave once your last check for disability pay has arrived. Whether you automatically get that information or not, this second kind of leave can begin once your period of recovery ends, and your healthcare professional says that your pregnancy-related disability will no longer impede your work. 

Unfortunately, Paid Family Leave does not automatically provide job protection from pregnancy discrimination, meaning that some employers will not be obligated to offer you back your job once your leave is over.

To prevent wrongful termination, make sure that you know what the rules are with your employer beforehand. Also, you can see if your job might be protected under other California laws, such as the Family Medical Leave Act or the California Family Rights Act as job-protected leave (or CFRA leave). Female employees might also consider seeing if they qualify for state disability insurance related to childbirth.

How can Trajector help me?

Like many legal and financial fields, navigating the complexity of disability benefits, including pregnancy disability leave and other temporary conditions, can be a daunting task, especially for those of us with little or no background in those areas of expertise. Misunderstandings, loopholes, and simple mistakes can mean that those who should qualify for benefits will not always receive them as easily as they should. What can be done if you end up in this kind of situation? Fortunately, there are professionals ready to offer their assistance.

Trajector is a company dedicated to helping people receive the disability benefits they qualify for, whether those benefits come from government or private entities.  Trajector helps their clients navigate this complexity to help them receive the necessary benefits. 

If you aren’t sure where to begin with your journey to receive your disability benefits, or if you are already in the midst of that journey and are looking for professional support, consider getting in touch with Trajector today to see how they can help you.