Types of SSD Benefits
If you have suffered a physical, cognitive, or mental disability that has left you unable to work, you may be eligible for federal disability benefits. Each program has different eligibility requirements.
Social Security Disability InsuranceSocial Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides financial payments to people who cannot work due to a disabling medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death. The medical condition must render the person unable to do substantial gainful work. SSDI benefits are only granted to those individuals who meet past work requirements and therefore have paid into the Social Security system.
First, an applicant for SSDI must have a sufficient recent work history. The amount of recent work history required depends on the applicant’s age. Applicants under the age of 24 usually only need one and a half years of work during the prior three years before the onset of their disability. Applicants 24 and older but younger than 31 must have worked at least half of the time since turning 21. Generally, applicants 31 and older must have worked at least five of the past 10 years prior to the onset of disability.
The number of total years that an applicant must have worked to become eligible for SSDI benefits also varies with the applicant’s age. This could range from as little as 1.5 years of work for applicants under the age of 28, rising to as much as 9.5 years of work for applicants who have turned 60.
The amount you receive under SSDI will be calculated based upon your average monthly earnings before you suffered your disability. Only those earnings for which you paid into the Social Security system will be counted. If you receive other public disability benefits or workers’ compensation, those financial payments might reduce the amount of your SSDI benefits.
Although an individual receiving SSDI is deemed disabled from work, the program allows you to try returning to work without jeopardizing your benefits. However, if you do return to work or become self-employed, you must report your income to the Social Security Administration as it may reduce or eliminate your SSDI benefits.
Supplemental Security IncomeSupplemental Security Income (SSI) refers to the program that provides monthly payments to blind or disabled individuals or people 65 and older who have little income or financial resources. Unlike the SSDI program, eligibility for SSI does not require having a work history. Instead, SSI benefits are based on an applicant’s financial need.
A person must have monthly income that falls below the federal benefit rate, a figure that is regularly updated by the government. However, certain amounts and types of income are excluded from the calculation of an applicant’s income, particularly for blind and disabled applicants. If an applicant is married or under the age of 18, his or her spouse’s or parents’ income may be counted in the calculation.
In addition to the income limit, an applicant may not have more than $2,000 in financial resources, such as real estate, bank accounts, cash, or stocks. However, certain assets are not counted, including your primary residence, your primary vehicle (in most cases), or certain life insurance policies.
SSI is only granted to U.S. citizens and nationals living in the U.S., although non-citizens may qualify for benefits under certain circumstances.
Most states, including Florida, also offer a supplemental payment on top of the SSI benefits received from the federal government.
Family BenefitsCertain family members of an individual receiving SSDI benefits may also qualify for benefits, including:
• Spouses age 62 or older and spouses caring for a child who is under 16 years old or disabled
• Unmarried children under 18 years old (or 19 if still in high school)
• Unmarried adult children who suffer from a total disability that began before age 22
In addition, an individual may meet the work history qualifications for SSDI benefits based on their spouse’s work history.
Medicare and SSD BenefitsEveryone who receives SSDI benefits will become eligible for Medicare after observing a 24-month waiting period. After 24 months, an SSDI recipient will automatically receive Medicare Part A and Part B benefits.