If you are disabled and struggling to meet your financial obligations, you may be considering applying for disability benefits. The Social Security Administration manages two programs: Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income. While both programs do assist disabled individuals, they differ in some key ways. It is important to understand the differences between these programs before beginning the application process.
Ready to start the application process? Baker & Baker is here to help. Call us at 850-433-0888 to schedule a consultation now.
Who Does the Program Serve?
Although both programs assist disabled individuals, there are slight differences in the populations they serve. The Social Security disability program supports those who have a substantial work history and are no longer able to work due to disability. The Supplemental Security Income program assists those who are aged 65 or older, blind, or disabled.
How Do You Qualify?
To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must qualify in two ways. First, you must have a substantial work history. The average applicant needs 40 credits of work experience, 20 of which must be in the 10 years prior to the disability. You can earn four credits of work experience per year, so this amounts to about 10 years of work experience.
Second, you must prove that you are too disabled to work. This generally involved providing extensive medical documentation of your disabilities and how they have kept you from work.
To qualify for Supplemental Security Income, you must also qualify in two separate ways. First, you must have limited income and assets. An individual applying for SSI must not have more than $2,000 in countable assets and $794 in income per month.
However, there are numerous assets and types of income that do not count against you for SSI. Before assuming you don’t qualify, discuss your case with a disability attorney. Second, you must prove that you qualify via your age, blindness, or disability.
Where Does the Money Come From?
Social Security disability benefits are paid by the income you have earned throughout the course of your career. When you get paid, a small portion of your paycheck goes to Social Security. Your employer also pays a small amount to Social Security whenever it pays you. The benefits you receive from the program are funded by your and your employer’s contributions. Supplemental Security Income payments are funded by general tax revenue.
How Much Does It Pay?
If you qualify for SSDI payments, your payment amount is based on your average lifetime earnings. Currently, the average payment is almost $1,300 per month, and the maximum payment is just over $3,100 per month.
SSI payments are adjusted each year to account for cost-of-living changes. An eligible individual receives up to $794 per month. An eligible married couple receives up to $1,191 per month. This amount may go down if the individual or couple in question has assets or income that exceeds SSI limits.
How Does It Affect Other Benefits?
SSDI does not affect your ability to receive other benefits. However, those who qualify for SSI are generally guaranteed Medicaid eligibility. This benefit varies from state to state. In some states, you automatically qualify without needing to fill out an application. In others, you automatically qualify but still must fill out an application.
Other benefits you receive as an SSI recipient may affect your eligibility for SSI. This depends on whether or not your other benefits are countable income.
Many states have additional SSI funds for those who receive SSI from the federal government. To find out if your state offers this benefit, consult your disability attorney and find out how you can apply.
Whether you decide to apply for SSDI or SSI, note that the application process can be long and grueling. You’ll need to provide substantial medical documentation of your disability, attend phone or in-person meetings, and possibly navigate the appeals process. Working with a trusted disability attorney can help you get through this process as smoothly as possible.
Discuss Your Disability Claim with Baker & Baker
If you’re interested in applying for disability benefits or you’ve received a denial letter, working with an attorney can help you make the most of your time. To find out how we can help, call us at 850-433-0888 or contact us online.