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Social Security Disability
The Social Security Administration (SSA) determines eligibility for disability benefits. Once you qualify as disabled under the Social Security Act, the SSA distributes disability payments under two programs:
1: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), for workers who have contributed to the Social Security Trust Fund (and their dependents); and
2: Supplemental Security Income (SSI), for disabled persons with limited incomes and assets (and their dependents)
Disability benefits are for people who cannot work because of an emotional, mental or physical condition that will last one year or more or result in death.
SSDI supports workers who have contributed to the Social Security Trust Fund through the social security taxes collected on their earnings and wages. SSDI is also available to certain dependents of workers. If you are found to be eligible for SSDI, you might be entitled to back pay if you can show that you were disabled prior to the date of your application.
The disability benefits you can receive are based on your average lifetime earnings. This amount is listed in the annual Social Security statements that you receive from the SSA.
Who Qualifies For SSDI?
- Disabled workers under the age of 65: Individuals must have worked for a long enough period, and recently enough, to qualify for SSDI benefits. Individuals are required by law to have a specific number of work credits in a specified period of time before applying for benefits. Individuals can earn up to four credits per year, each credit representing three months. The number of credits needed to qualify for disability benefits is dependent on the age at which the individual becomes disabled.
- Individuals entitled to auxiliary benefits: The SSA pays auxiliary benefits to certain people who qualify based on another person’s entitlement to retirement or disability benefits. Individuals who qualify for auxiliary benefits do not necessarily have to be disabled or need to have the work credits as described above. You may qualify for auxiliary benefits if you are a spouse or divorced spouse and meet the other qualifications. Dependent, unmarried children, parents and surviving spouses may also qualify for auxiliary benefits.
What Is SSI, And Who Qualifies For Those Benefits?
Adults or children with limited financial resources who are disabled may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income benefits. Individuals whose income is too high will be turned down, regardless of how severe the disability.
To qualify for Supplemental Security Income, monthly income must not exceed the federal benefit rate. If one spouse of a married couple is eligible, the couple’s total income is considered. If a child is seeking benefits, is under 18, and is living with his or her parents, the parents’ incomes are considered.
Resource limits are also considered by the SSA when determining eligibility for a SSI claim. A resource is considered cash or other assets that can be used for support. The SSA will consider the proceeds of sold property as a resource. These limits are set by law and are not subject to cost-of-living adjustments; however some assets are excluded from resource calculations.
The question of income and resources are one of the most complicated areas handled by the SSA.
The approval process typically takes a long time and it is not unusual to have your application denied, especially on the first attempt. Sometimes this is simply because the SSA did not receive all of your medical records and other information it needed in order to properly evaluate and prove your claim.
Our job is to assist you with your application and help you gather all the important information and evidence you will need in order to win your case. We will also correspond with the SSA and attend every hearing with you that is scheduled in your case. Contact us to learn how we can help you.