Types of Social Security Disability Benefits

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two main programs that provide financial assistance to eligible workers and individuals who get disabled before their retirement age. These disability payments are the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI). An applicant, whose disability is found in the list of physical disabilities and ailments drawn up by the Social Security Administration, is eligible to receive SSDI or SSI benefits (even if claimant files only for SSDI, Social Security will still evaluate your case to see if you are qualified to receive benefits under SSI and/or SSDI. Thus, in the event that your SSDI claim is denied, you no longer need to re-apply for a possible SSI benefit.

Under SSA rules, to qualify for an SSDI benefit, a disabled claimant must be an “insured worker” below 65 years old. Being an “insured worker” means that claimant ought to have worked long and recently enough, and has earned a specific amount of work credits (within a specified time) through payment of Social Security taxes, which is taken from his/her monthly pay.

The (legal) least number of credits a worker must earn to be eligible for SSDI benefits is 20, which is earned after 10 years of work (a worker can earn four credits within a year of work as each credit is made after three months of SS tax payments). The amount of work credits required for disability benefits increases with your age, such that if you get disabled at the age of 44, you must have earned at least 22 credits. Under particular circumstances, however, SSA may still consider you eligible for SSDI benefits even if you have not paid SS taxes for some time due to loss of work of if you get disabled after working for earning only six credits. Certain members of your family (who meet SSA requirements) may also qualify for auxiliary benefits which is to be based on your credit record.

An SSI benefit is given to adults or children with disability and limited resources and income. Income limits cannot exceed the mandated federal benefit rate or FBR, the amount of which is affected by the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). In 2012, for instance, individual FBR was set at $698/ month and $1,048/month for couples, even if only one of the couples is eligible.

Limited resources, on the other hand, refer to cash or asset. A “resource” may be classified either as liquid (like cash, some types of life insurance, promissory notes, mutual funds, bonds, checking and savings accounts, stocks and any other type of asset that may be converted to cash in 20 working days’ time) or non-liquid assets, which include personal properties (such as cars) and real properties (like land).

The amount limit set by the government for resources (in 2012) was $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for married couples (even if only one of the couples is eligible for SSI). Certain assets and properties, like a wedding and an engagement ring, and house, respectively, are exempt from those considered by the Social Security Administration.

Social Security disability benefits can be a lifeline for a disabled worker and his/her family. Earning or being denied of this benefit will cause a major effect in the lives of those affected. Due to the complexity of the law and procedures for filing a claim, however, the disabled and his/her family can be overwhelmed by all the legalities involved just to be deemed qualified to receive the benefit applied for. Thus, deciding to hire the services of a legal professional, who knows the details of the law and can help you understand them, would be one wise decision.


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