Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits: A Quick Guide
It’s not easy to understand the processes of applying for and receiving Social Security benefits. What’s worse is that, if you’re like most people, you probably aren’t even really clear about whether you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Although these two program names sound very similar, they’re actually very different and they are intended for two different groups of people.
Here’s a quick look at how to qualify for Social Security benefits, including SSDI benefits and SSI benefits:
Qualifying for SSDI Benefits
Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) is a program funded through payroll taxes and is a program that you can qualify for only after building up enough “work credits.” This means that you must have worked for enough time, and paid Social Security taxes via your paycheck, to qualify for SSDI assistance if you become disabled. In most cases, this is considered to be around five to 10 years of work.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has strict requirements regarding age for SSDI assistance; you typically won’t qualify for SSDI if you are in your 20s, and you won’t qualify if you are older than 65. The SSA will also want to make sure that your disability means that you really can’t earn enough money to support yourself; the SSA requires that applicants prove “total disability” in order to receive SSDI payments. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a little over 17% of Americans with a disability were employed in 2014 despite being disabled.
Qualifying for SSI Benefits
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program for low-income workers. In order to qualify for SSI, you must prove that your income is below a certain threshold, that it is not likely to increase substantially in the near future, and that your total assets are worth no more than $2,000 (or $3,000 if you are married). If you are under the age of 65, you must prove that you (and possibly your partner) are completely unable to work; if you are over 65, you may be able to qualify for SSI assistance by proving partial disability.
Because SSI is part of a larger need-based program, it goes hand-in-hand with other federal assistance programs like food stamps and Medicaid. If you are already receiving these programs, it is likely that you’ll go through SSI if you are injured and must apply for Social Security benefits.
The process of applying for Social Security disability benefits certainly isn’t easy; many people also find that they need to file an appeal because their initial application is denied. As any good Oklahoma Social Security lawyer will tell you, this happens very often and it is still possible to receive disability benefits through an appeals process. Some people do qualify for both SSDI and SSI, but very few people really want to go through the applications processes for both programs!
Social Security disability laws are very strict, but this is only to make sure that there’s money available for individuals who really do need it. Around 64.2 million Americans receive payments through a Social Security benefits program (as of 2014), and this number is only expected to grow: health experts predict that around one in four Millennials will become disabled before reaching the age of 67. The process of applying may not be easy, but the programs themselves are definitely important.