A Basic Introduction to Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income

You are physically injured or otherwise unable to do your regular work, and you know that you are eligible for Social Security Disability. However, you are unsure about the criteria for deciding disability and you would like additional information. You also have heard that in cases where you may not be eligible for Social Security Disability, you may be entitled to Supplemental Security Income.

Both Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income are Federal programs administered by the Social Security Administration. The key idea behind both is to aid individuals with disability, whether by providing them an income or helping with additional income.

Social Security Disability Insurance is an option for those who have developed physical, mental of psychological problems that prevent them from performing their regular work. There are specific considerations that will be examined to determine a claimant’s eligibility for Social Security Disability, and the insurance will be awarded only if the claimant meets the following requirements:

  • The disability should have prevented the claimant from working for a year or must be severe enough that it is expected to affect the person for a year.

  • The person should be making less than $934 a month ($1,391 a month for a couple). This income requirement is true as of 2023 and is subject to change.

If these criteria are met, a claimant can expect to be considered eligible for Social Security Disability after five months. While a person may be eligible from the sixth month, the truth is that it takes a while for Social Security Disability application to be processed. A high percentage of claims are denied and the appeals process can well take up to two to three years and this is something that applicants should be mentally prepared to handle. Given this rather long processing time, it is best to get the application going as soon as you believe you are a likely candidate for Social Security Disability. It is also worth considering getting professional representation for your application to ensure that you get the benefit of an experienced attorney or advocate to guide you through the paperwork.

There are a couple of different options for submitting your application - you can apply online or consider an appointment in person. Do keep in mind that you need to have worked in jobs covered by Social Security in the recent past to get the benefit of the Social Security Disability. Disability Determination Services will process your application and consider whether you have the required credits to get Social Security Disability. It is important to submit a thorough medical record with every doctor and treatment recorded when you apply for Social Security Disability and it is best to not assume that any treatment is insignificant or irrelevant.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is the other option for people who are disabled and unable to continue with their regular work schedule. SSI is based on considerations of financial need. While Social Security Disability Insurance is paid from an employee’s Social Security payments and is defined by time worked and annual income, Supplemental Security Income differs. It is paid from general tax revenue and is decided based on the applicant’s financial situation. Since, the Supplemental Security Income is meant to be in addition to other income that a claimant has, monthly wage reporting is an integral part of receiving this income supplement. You have to submit your pay stubs and other earning members of your family such as spouse or parents for Social Security to determine how much supplemental income you need. The amount you receive can move up or down depending on the financial situation of your family.

The Benefits Eligibility Screening Tool is a series of online questions that can help you figure out whether you are eligible for any benefits and what exact program will suit your situation. It is a good starting point for those trying to understand how to handle Social Security Disability.

Claimants should be aware that their application for either of these programs can be turned down for medical or non-medical reasons. In either case, you have the option of appealing the verdict and it usually starts with an Internet appeal. It is worth noting that the first round of appeal usually does not succeed. However, it is worthwhile making another appeal as this is decided by an Administrative Law Judge. It is important to initiate the appeal process within 60 days of receiving the original notice denying your Social Security Disability claim.

When an earning family member becomes disabled it can be a source of tremendous stress to figure out how to deal with the financial fall-out. Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income are great avenues for those seeking to deal with loss of income due to disability.

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