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Social Security Disability Benefits

Many people know that Social Security Disability benefits are available to help Americans who are suddenly unable to work due to an unexpected long-term or permanent disability. What they often do not understand is that there is more than one type of disability benefit available to disabled individuals. In fact, there are five major types of Social Security Disability benefits that a disabled person may qualify for. If you or someone you know has suffered from a long-term or permanent disability and you are wondering what types of disability benefits may be out there to help, the following information will help you understand the most common types of disability benefits available and how those benefits are paid to people who are unable to work due to a qualifying disabling condition.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is the most commonly-recognized disability benefit. Each year, millions of hard-working American citizens become disabled and need to file a claim for this type of disability payment.

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance, an applicant must suffer from a qualifying disability that is expected to last at least twelve months. In addition, the applicant must also have earned enough work credits to qualify for this disability benefit. The amount of work credits needed varies depending on the applicant's age at the time they become disabled. Work credits for the SSDI program are earned through work activity. Each quarter that you work and pay into the Social Security program you receive one work credit. Individuals who have no work history are not likely to qualify for SSDI disability benefits.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

If you do not have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI disability benefits and your household income and assets are below the guidelines set forth by the Social Security Administration (SSA), you may qualify for Supplement Security Income (SSI) benefits. Like SSDI, SSI disability benefits are also funded by the federal government. Unlike SSDI benefits, however, SSI benefits are not earned through work credits. SSI is a needs-based program administered by the SSA. In some cases a disabled individual's SSI payment may be supplemented by the State in which they live.

The maximum benefit amount that the SSA will pay to an SSI recipient is $674 per month for a qualifying individual or $1,011 per month to a qualifying couple. In some cases, however, it is possible to receive more than this amount. Whether or not you qualify for a higher SSI payment will depend on which state you live in and whether or not your State supplements resident's SSI payments. For example, in New York an SSI recipient may receive $674 per month from the SSA and an additional $87 per month from the State of New York.

Disabled Widows and Widower's Benefits

Individuals who are at least fifty years old who have become disabled within a certain amount of time after the death of their spouse may qualify for Disabled Widows and Widower's disability benefits. In order to qualify for this benefit, the deceased spouse must have worked and earned enough work credits under the Social Security program to be insured by the SSA. There are no income or asset limits associated with this type of disability benefit. The amount of money received each month by individuals who qualify for this benefit will depend on how much money the spouse earned while he or she was alive.

Disabled Adult Child Benefits

If a child becomes disabled before the age of 22 and does not have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits of their own accord, they may still be able to obtain SSDI benefits if their parents earned enough work credits through the Social Security program. There is no income or asset limits associated with these disability benefits and the amount of money received will depend on the parents' earnings history.

Children of Disabled Workers

When a tax-paying worker becomes disabled and begins receiving Social Security Disability benefits, the minor children of that worker may also qualify for payments from the SSA. The exact amount received will depend on how much money the parent earned while working in the workforce.

Qualifying for Benefits

It is possible for some Social Security Disability applicants to qualify for more than one type of disability benefit. For example, a person who is receiving SSDI payments may also be entitled to SSI disability benefits if their household income and assets are below the established guidelines (the SSDI payments will be calculated as part of the household income). The disabled individual's children may also be entitled to SSDI benefits as dependents of the disabled worker.

To understand which SSDI or SSI disability benefits you may qualify for and to increase your chances for disability benefits, you should consider the services of a qualified disability attorney or advocate. A Social Security Disability advocate or attorney will help you understand which disability benefits you may be able to receive and will help you understand what is required to obtain the benefits you may be entitled to.