The general public often refers to Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as disability benefits. However, these are two separate programs. Most people are only eligible to receive SSD benefits, but those who are approved for SSD and meet income and asset guidelines may also receive SSI payments.
About SSD Benefits
SSD benefits are earned by working and paying Social Security taxes on your earnings, regardless of whether you work for someone else or are self-employed. To qualify, you must suffer from a condition that prevents you from working and is expected to last at least one year or result in your death.
SSD benefits have requirements for both recent work and the duration of work. SSD requires you to have worked at least five of the last 10 years if you are 31 or older. If you are between 24 and 31 when you became disabled, you must have earned work credits for at least half the time since you were 21. If you become disabled when you are under 24, you must have worked at least one and a half years in the three-year period before you become disabled.
You can earn a maximum of four work credits per year. The dollar amount necessary to earn a work credit changes each year, but even part-time work generally allows you to earn the maximum work credits for the year. The number of work credits required to receive benefits is calculated based on your age and increases each year. Applicants between the ages of 21 and 27 need just six work credits to qualify, but someone who is 50 must have 28 work credits.
There are no income or asset requirements for SSD benefits. Your health and your ability to continue working are the sole factors for determining if you can receive SSD.
About SSI Benefits
SSI benefits are for people who have limited financial resources and are blind, disabled, or 65 or older. Children who are blind or disabled may receive SSI benefits, although the definition of a qualifying disability is different for applicants who are under 18.
The most significant difference between SSD and SSI is that SSI benefits have no work requirements. Some people who receive SSI have never had paid employment, while others have not earned enough work credits to qualify for SSD benefits. However, it is possible to receive both SSD and SSI payments if you meet the eligibility criteria for both programs.
People who receive both SSD and SSI payments are typically those who earned low wages and did not work full time in recent years. Applying for benefits from both programs is called a “concurrent claim.” An individual’s SSD benefits are calculated first, then this payment is used to determine if that person meets the financial guidelines for SSI.
Unlike SSD or Social Security benefits, individuals do not pay into the SSI program. Benefits are funded through the U.S. Treasury’s general fund.
In some states, individuals who receive SSI benefits are automatically approved for Medicaid benefits. However, Virginia has its own eligibility and application process for Medicaid benefits.
Your spouse’s income and financial resources can affect your ability to receive SSI benefits, since this is a need-based program. If your spouse is working full-time, you may find that your benefits are reduced, or that you no longer qualify for SSI.
The Value of Legal Assistance
Appling for SSD and SSI benefits is a complicated and time-consuming process. Your disability and existing resources must be carefully documented. It’s common to initially be denied benefits, then be awarded SSD and/or SSI on appeal.
Retaining a lawyer with experience in disability claims allows you to focus on your health without worrying about mistakes in the application process that can jeopardize your benefits. The fee for representation is taken out of your back pay when your benefits are approved, so there is no upfront cost for assistance.
Have You Or A Loved One Been Denied Social Security Disability Benefits?
If you or a loved on has been denied Social Security Disability Benefits you need to speak with an experienced SSD attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Virginia Beach office directly at 757.490.3500 to schedule your free consultation. We have offices throughout Virginia including Chesapeake, Newport News, Norfolk and Suffolk.