Despite a glut of information, it can be difficult to understand Social Security disability benefits. Wading through numerous web pages, pamphlets, brochures, and Social Security communications takes time. This simple guide to Social Security disability benefits should help.
The Social Security Administration
You probably think of retirement benefits when you hear “Social Security.” However, the Social Security Administration (Social Security) also manages two disability-related programs – Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The programs are a little bit similar, but still have some key differences, including eligibility and potential benefits.
Social Security Disability Insurance
SSDI benefits are paid to people who are unable to work because of a disability. However, qualifying is not as easy as it sounds.
Applicants have to meet the standard definition of disability. To do so, you must be unable to “engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) that are:
- Expected to result in death.
- Has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months. “
In addition, SSDI applicants must have earned enough work credits, based on a sliding scale prepared by Social Security.
If you meet the disability definition and have enough work credits, Social Security will then assess your supporting documentation and decide whether to award benefits or not.
People whose claims are approved receive monthly benefit payments. In addition, Social Security offers programs to help beneficiaries return to work if they are ready.
Supplemental Security Income Benefits
SSI also offers monthly benefits to people who qualify. However, eligibility requirements are very different than SSDI’s.
For instance, SSI is a needs-based program. That means that applicants have to demonstrate a financial need to receive these benefits. For SSI, that means that your income and resources must fall below the limits set by Social Security.
However, knowing which assets and income count toward your Social Security limits is challenging. It’s best to discuss your situation with a qualified and experienced disability lawyer before giving up on SSI.
In addition, applicants must be either:
- Blind, or
- At least age 65.
Both SSDI and SSI benefits can be available to children also.
Social Security Disability Benefits Are Available, But First You Have to Apply.
Talk to an attorney about your eligibility for disability benefits. Your disability lawyer can review your case and see how it stands up to Social Security regulations.
The attorneys at The Law Offices of Martin Taller have more than 50 years’ legal experience, much of it involving Social Security Disability Insurance claims. They can help you with your application and any appeals that might be needed.
Call us at 714-385-8100 for a free consultation. Though our office is located in Anaheim, we assist clients throughout Southern California.