There are two types of Social Security disability benefits programs that are operated by the Social Security Administration: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) – which has been covered in detail above – and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both are intended for persons with disabilities, although there are some stark differences between the two.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
As described above, Social Security Disability Insurance is for disabled persons and their family members in the event that an individual becomes disabled, and is thereby prevented from substantially gainful employment and income. This benefit type is only available to those who are ‘insured’ through Social Security by virtue of paying into the system during their working years. As such, only adults may qualify for SSDI benefits. Further, your award amount under SSDI is based on the number of work credits you have acquired while working. The benefits are paid in the form of monthly cash benefits.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Unlike SSDI, SSI is available for persons who have not paid into the Social Security insurance pool (have not worked under Social Security). Instead, SSI benefits are intended for those persons who are aged, blind, or disabled and who are of limited income and resources. Eligibility for SSI benefits include being:
- Disabled; or
- Over 65 years of age; and
- Of limited resources;
- Of limited income; and
- A U.S. citizen or national.
SSI often provides benefits to children who are blind or disabled, who cannot qualify for SSDI benefits due to the fact that they are not working, nor have never, worked.
In order to qualify for SSI, a person can only make so much money per month and have so much in assets. Earned income, unearned income, in-kind income (food or shelter that is received for free), and deemed income (income from the spouse with whom the applicant lives) are all considered income in the eyes of the Social Security Administration and may count against you. For the year 2016, the monthly income limit (the amount of money that you can make in a single month) is $1,551 per individual from wages; $753 per individual not from wages; $2,285 per couple from wages; and $1,120 per couple not from wages. If you make more money than this, you cannot qualify for Supplemental Security Income.
Receiving Both Benefit Types
In some cases, an individual may be able to apply and qualify for both benefits types – SSDI and SSI – simultaneously. This is known as receiving concurrent benefits. In order to qualify for concurrent benefits, a person must qualify for SSDI through their work record but receive very low monthly SSDI benefits. Usually, this occurs if the applicant has worked very little over the past decade, became disabled shortly after beginning to work, or earned very little money over the course of their work history.
Because SSI is a financial need-based program, a person may receive such a low monthly SSDI payment that their monthly income is still below the income limit threshold for SSI, allowing them to qualify for this benefit type as well.
Why It Is Important to Hire an SSDI Attorney
Thousands of Social Security disability benefit claims are denied every year; the denial rate is actually higher than the approval rate. There are multiple reasons that claims are denied, but one of the most common is simply that the applicant does not fill out their application correctly or in full, and does not understand what the Social Security Administration is looking for. Another common reason is that an applicant does not understand the application process, and may be confused by requests from the Social Security Administration, and therefore may fail to take actions necessary for claim approval. For all of these reasons and more, having an experienced Social Security Disability Insurance attorney on your side is essential, and can improve your claim’s chances of being approved.
Guiding You Through the Process
One of the biggest benefits of a SSDI attorney is that the attorney has helped clients with their SSDI/SSI applications countless times in the past, and knows the process inside and out. A SSDI attorney can assist in organizing and collecting all of your medical documents, gathering the right type of evidence to prove your disability, and ensuring that your application contains all necessary materials upon being submitted. If you have questions about which type of disability program to apply for, how much you may be able to recover in monthly benefits, how much your family members can recover, what your taxable benefit amount may be, or what the income limit is, an attorney can answer all of these questions and more.
Advocating for Your During the Appeals Process
In the event that your claim is denied the first time that you apply, you will no doubt want to file an appeal. Remember, you must file an appeal not only correctly, but within a certain amount of time as well. Further, there are multiple levels of appeal, and the legal processes during each may be confusing to a person without legal training.
Your attorney will handle every aspect of appealing your claim, and keep you informed of all of your options and legal rights. Throughout the entire process, a North Carolina SSDI attorney will do everything they can to get your claim approved.
Schedule a Consultation with a North Carolina SSDI Attorney Today
Receiving disability benefits – or not – will have a huge impact on your future and your life. To improve your claim’s chances, contact the car wreck and personal injury lawyers at Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. today. Schedule your free case consultation by using our online form or calling our offices now.