Types of Benefits
What types of benefits can I receive?
Social Security pays disability benefits through two programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI is awarded to individuals whom are disabled and unable to work, yet have paid into Social Security for the required amount of time. SSI awards benefits according to financial need.
What is Social Security Disability Insurance?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program that benefits disabled American’s who must stop working prior to reaching retirement age. Claimants who are determined disabled by the Social Security Administration (SSA) will be awarded monthly benefits.
Who qualifies for SSDI?
There are several requirements a claimant must meet to be eligible for disability benefits. First, the individual must have a medical condition(s) that prevents him/her from working. This condition must last, or be expedited to last, a one year minimum or result in death. Second, a claimant is required to have worked both long enough and recently enough at a job that paid into Social Security. Those 31 and older must have worked 5 of the past 10 years, which equates to 20 credits. More information on Social Security work credits can be found here.
What is Supplemental Security Income?
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program that is strictly need-based according to income and assets. Unlike SSDI, this does not involve one’s work history. Instead, a claimant must be determined disabled by SSA standard AND be able to demonstrate financial need (insufficient or no income).
Can I qualify for both SSDI and SSI benefits?
Yes, it is possible to receive both types of benefits: your income and assets must be low enough to qualify for SSI, yet you have worked long enough at a job that paid in to Social Security to qualify for SSDI.
Social Security Disability and Veterans
Can I get both Social Security Disability benefits and Military Retirement?
Yes, and generally there is no reduction in your Social Security Disability benefits due to your Military Retirement. In other words, you get full Social Security benefits based on your earnings. If you have health care benefits from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs your health care benefits may end or change when you become eligible for Medicare.
Can I get Social Security Disability benefits and VA Compensation benefits?
Yes, there is no offset between SSDI and VA benefits. You may receive both concurrently.
How is the Social Security Disability system different from the VA system?
The primary difference between these systems is the disability determination. The VA awards both partial and full disability, measured on a scale of 0-100%. The Social Security Administration awards benefits on an all or nothing basis. Either the claimant is found to be disabled and will receive monthly benefits, or the claimant will be denied benefits in total.
Can I work part-time and be eligible for Social Security Disability?
A claimant can work while applying for Social Security Disability, however, there are strict limitations on the amount. Earning more than the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) limit will prove to the SSA that you are able to work and, therefore, are not eligible for benefits. In 2018, a claimant can earn no greater than $1,180 gross income per month.
How far back will Social Security pay me if I am approved?
Social Security will only pay past-due benefits one year prior to the date on which the application was filed, even if they find you disabled much earlier than that. In SSI cases, you will only get paid from the date of your application.
What information does a veteran or present member of the military need to apply for SSDI or SSI benefits?
- Original or certified copy of your birth certificate of proof of US citizenship or legal residency of foreign-born
- W-2 form or income tax return from last year
- DD 214 if discharged from the military
- Any military or workers compensation (include proof of payment)
- Medical records from all military and civilian sources
- Initial: Initial application stage involves applying for SSI and/or SSDI benefits. You are free to do this on your own, but we can help you complete the application and accompanying forms. After applying, it may take the Social Security Administration 2 to 6 months to process your application.
- Reconsideration: If your initial application is denied, your case will be appealed and move onto Reconsideration. The Reconsideration stage involves the Administration collecting more records (if you alert them to the existence of new records) and reviewing your case. This review will generally take 1 to 5 months.
- Hearing: If your Reconsideration is denied. Claimants generally wait an average of 18-24 months for a hearing, after requesting one. The Administration will alert you of the time, date, and place of your hearing about six weeks to a month before the hearing. During this time we will gather evidence and prepare for your hearing.
- Decision: Some judges will make a decision at the hearing. Other judges will take 6 – 8 weeks to decide. Regardless, a written decision is sent to you which explains the reasons supporting the decision. If you win, you will begin the process of being “placed in pay.” It often takes 6 to 12 weeks to get monthly benefits started, and a few months longer to get your full back award.