There are two types of Social Security disability programs that provide disabled individuals cash benefits. In many ways, they look very similar, but they are not. There are several significant difference, especially regarding the financial eligibility requirements. Social Security Disability Income and Supplemental Security Income are both managed and overseen by the Social Security Administration. Most people don’t realize they are different, but they are. However, the determinations for medical eligibility are the same for both programs.
Social Security Disability Income (SSDI)
SSDI is available to individuals who have worked for a certain amount of time and contributed via their FICA Social Security taxes to the Social Security trust fund. This means that this type of social security disability benefit is funded through payroll taxes. Recipients of SSDI are said to be “insured” because of the amount of time they worked and the contributions they made when they paid taxes on their income.
Recipients of SSDI must meet certain requirements. They must be younger than 65 years old and they must earned a specific number of work credits. Once a disabled person has received SSDI for two years, they are eligible for Medicare.
When a disabled person receives SSDI, their spouse and children who are dependents are also eligible to receive auxiliary benefits which are partial dependent benefits. They must be 18 to qualify for SSDI disability benefits.
When a person becomes disabled, he or she must wait for five months before they can receive benefits. Once the waiting period is over, they can receive their benefits, but the amount is dependent upon their earnings record. In this way is it very similar to Social Security retirement benefits.
On average, more people tend to get approved for SSDI than for SSI. There are several possible reasons for this. One of the main reasons is that SSDI applicants were employed at one time and are more likely to have coverage as well as a higher income. This increases their chances of having seen a doctor for their medical issues. People who don’t see a doctor regularly have a much more difficult time qualifying for benefits.
Claims examiners and judges tend to view applicants who have a longer work history as more credible. SSI applicants don’t usually have much of a work history or none at all.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
SSI disability income is available for people who have lower income and have either never worked or do not qualify for SSDI because they have not earned enough work credits. The program is a needs-tested program, meaning it only looks at financial need without regard to work history. This benefit is needs-based and eligibility is determined by assets and income.
The program gets its funds from the general fund taxes as opposed to the Social Security trust fund. A disabled person who meets the eligibility requirements for SSI is also eligible for Medicaid in their state of residence. Most individuals who get SSI also qualify for food stamps. The amount of benefits that people receive from these programs depend upon the state in which they live.
In New York, the food stamp program is called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The maximum New York SNAP benefits as of October 1, 2017 are:
|Each additional member||$144+|
More females tend to apply for SSI than males. This is primarily because there aren’t as many women who are eligible for SSDI. Women often do not have the qualifying years of work for SSDI while men have usually worked at least a portion of every year in their adult life.
Income Limits for SSDI and SSI
In order to meet the income requirements for SSI, an individual must have less than $2,000 in assets. If they are a couple, that amount is less than $3,000. They must also have very limited or no income.
Eligibility requirements for SSDI are a little more complex. An individual must have a certain number of work credits in order to qualify, but that amount is dependent upon the person’s age when they became disabled. For example, a person who became disabled at age 50 must have 28 work credits. This translates to working seven years with at least five of those years within the past 10 years. Many people find that hiring a disability attorney is very helpful.
The applicant must also have a long term condition that interferes with basic activities related to work. Under SSA guidelines, total disability means that the person cannot perform “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) for at least a 12 month period. The income limits for 2018 are $1,180 per month for applicants who are disabled and $1,970 per month for applicants who are blind. This means that applicants for SSDI can work, but their income cannot exceed these amounts.
If you need a New York Social Security disability lawyer, call us. We will help you work through the complex process of applying for SSI or SSDI benefits. Don’t try to do it alone. We know the process and can give you your best chance at approval.