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Community Information & Resourses
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY (SSDI) and SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME (SSI)?
The Social Security Administration is responsible for (2) major programs that provide benefits based on disability:
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which is based on prior work under Social Security.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) - Under SSI payments are made on the basis of financial need.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is financed with Social Security taxes paid by workers, employers, and self-employed persons. To be eligible for a Social Security benefit, the worker MUST earn sufficient credits based on taxable work to be "insured" for Social Security purposes. Disability benefits are payable to blind or disabled workers, widow(er)s, or adults disabled since childhood, who are otherwise eligible. The amount of the monthly disability benefit is based on the Social Security earnings record of the insured worker.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I'M ELIGIBLE FOR SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY (SSDI) BENEFITS?
If you work long enough at a job which is covered under the provisions of the Social Security Act, and become disabled, you are probably eligible for disability benefits.
HOW DOES SOCIAL SECURITY DEFINE A "DISABILITY"?
According to the Social Security Administration, a "Disability" can be physical, or emotional, or some combination of both. To qualify for benefits, you must have a disability severe enough to keep you from working any type of regular paying job for at least 12 consecutive months. The test for eligibility is not whether you can go back to a job you've lost; it is based on whether you are physically and emotionally CAPABLE of doing a job in an every day work place. Furthermore, to obtain Social Security Disability benefits, you must have a doctor state that you are "disabled by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory findings." Unfortunately, many disabling conditions are difficult to diagnose by objective testing. In this situation, it's up to your lawyer to present your doctor's reports properly, and to convince the Social Security board that you deserve to receive SSDI benefits.
HOW DO I APPLY FOR SSDI?
The Social Security rules and regulations make filing for benefits a very difficult process. For example, waiting in long lines at the social security office, complicated forms and lack of help from the social security 45. Most claimants are usually denied the first time their application is processed through the Social Security office, even if you have a legitimate claim. It's not uncommon to be denied on the second appeal. As a result, many people become discouraged and intimidated, so they simply back off, give up, and go away, even when they are genuinely entitled to their benefits. If you let your second appeal time run out, then you must start all over.
By law, anyone can file for his/her own Social Security Disability benefits. It has been shown that claimants who have legal representation win
more often than those who submit their own claims. The best solution is to contact a lawyer who specializes in disability claims. There are no upfront cost to you for their services.
Once approved by Social Security, you will recieve back pay from the first day you applied for benefits. All legal fee's will be paid from the back pay money. Every law firm charges different percentages for their services, so it is a smart idea to inquire about the percentage the law firm will receive from your back pay.
I HAVE MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS. AM I ELIGIBLE FOR RECEIVING SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY?
All decisions are based on the lasting effects of your disease and how you are disabled by it. Social Security Guidelines in section 11.00 of Adult Neurological Diseases, category 11.09 states a person with Multiple Sclerosis:
(a) Disorganization of motor function as described in 11.04B.
11.04B-Has significant and persistent disorganization of motor function in two extremities, resulting in sustained disturbance of gross and dexterous movements, or gait and station described in section 11.00C.
11.00C-Has persistent disorganization of motor function in the form of paresis or paralysis, tremor or other involuntary movements, ataxia and sensory disturbances (any or all of which may be due to cerebral, cerebellar, brain stem, spinal cord, or peripheral nerve dysfunction) which occurs singularly or in various combinations, frequently provides the sole or partial basis for decision in cases of neurological impairment. The assessment of impairment depends on the degree of interference with locomotion and/or interference with the use of fingers, hands and arms.
(b) Visual or mental impairment as described under the criteria in 2.02, 2.03, 2.04, or 12.02.
2.02-Loss of visual acuity. Remaining vision in the better eye after best correction is 20/200 or less.
2.03-Contraction of the visual field in the better eye.
2.03B-A mean deviation of -22 or worse, determined by automated static threshold perimetry.
2.03C-A visual field efficiency of 20 percent or less as determined by kinetic perimetry.
2.04-Loss of visual efficiency. Visual efficiency of the better eye of 20 percent or less after best correction.
12.02-Organic mental disorders: Psychological or behavioral abnormalities associated with a dysfunction of the brain. History and physical examination or laboratory tests demonstrate the presence of a specific organic factor judged to be etiologically related to the abnormal mental state and loss of previously acquired functional abilities.
(c) Significant, reproducible fatigue of motor function with substantial muscle weakness, repetitive activity, demonstrated on physical examination, resulting from neurological dysfunction in areas of the central nervous system known to be pathologically involved by the multiple sclerosis process.
CAN I RECEIVE WORKMAN'S COMPENSATION AND SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS AT THE SAME TIME?
YES, with a reduction of your Social Security disability benefits. If you receive workman's compensation benefits that will be calculated into your claim. This benefit depends on the STATE in which you live.
DO I HAVE TO BE PERMANANTLY DISABLED TO RECEIVE SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS OR SSI?
NO, if you are disabled for a minimum of a year or more you can qualify. The longer you are not able to work because of your disability the longer you may receive social security disability and/or SSI benefits. It all depends on any individual's circumstance, however, it is wise to submit your claim as soon as possible to get the process started.
WHAT IF I RECEIVE SSDI BENEFITS, BUT I CAN'T LIVE ON THE AMOUNT OF MONEY I GET FROM MY SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY (SSDI) OR (SSI)? CAN I RECEIVE MORE MONEY?
Possibly, if your monthly rate is below the federal poverty line.
I'M 34 YEARS OLD WITH CHILDREN AND I CAN NO LONGER WORK, ARE MY CHILDREN ELIGIBLE FOR SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS?
If you were employed (5) out of the last 10 years under Social Security before becoming disabled, you will have enough earnings to potentially qualify for Social Security disability benefits. If you are 31 years of age or less, the requirements are not the same, due to these individuals have not had along enough time to work. If a person has been staying home to take care of their children, it is possible that they can qualify for Social Security disability benefits based upon their own earnings. If you are a homemaker, you can possibly qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) whether or not you have worked in the past.
CAN I STILL COLLECT EARLY RETIREMENT AND STILL BE ENTITLED TO COLLECT SSDI OR SSI BENEFITS?
YES, if you can prove that your disability began before you retired.
WHAT IF AN ADULT WAS DISABLED BEFORE THE AGE 22?
ARE THEY ELIGIBLE FOR SSDI OR SSI BENEFITS?
An adult disabled before age 22 may be eligible for child's benefits if a parent is deceased or is currently receiving retirement or disability benefits. It is considered a "child's" benefit, because it is paid according to the parent's Social Security earnings. Social Security bases its decisions on meeting certain requirements such as your inability to work. You will only be considered "Disabled" if you meet the following rules:
(a) You cannot do work that you did before.
(b) We decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of your
(c) Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or
to result in death.
This is a very strict definition of disability. The Social Security program assumes that working families have access to other resources to provide support during periods of short-term disabilities, including workers' compensation, insurance, savings and/or other investments. Social Security will only pay for total disability, so you would not be allowed to receive benefits for a partial disability or short-term disability.
WHAT DOES SOCIAL SECURITY BASE THEIR DECISIONS ON?
They use a step-by-step process involving five questions from the Social Security Blue Book Standards. Some questions are:
(a) Are you working? If you are currently working and your earnings average more than $940 a month, you cannot be considered disabled. In 2009, the amount will increase to $980.
(b) If you are not working, the decision is made on the severity of your condition. Your condition must interfere with basic work-related activities for your claim to be considered. If it does not, you will not be considered disabled by the Social Security Blue Book Standards.
(c) If your condition does interfere with basic work-related activities then your disease will be based on: A list of medical conditions that are so severe they automatically mean that you are disabled. If your condition is not on the Social Security Blue Book list, then the decision is based according to the severity of a medical condition that is on the list.
(d) If you have a disease similar to one on the list, then Social Security will review your current and past circumstances, such as:
Can you do the work you did previously?
Can you do any other type of work?
What is your education level?
What is your age?
You can request a "Special Situations" approval but it will be based on your capacity for work, such as:
Can lift no more than 20 pounds for up to 1/3 of an 8-hour workday.
Can stand and/or walk for about 6 or more hours in an 8-hour workday.
Has no other limitations.
SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME (SSI)
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a Federal Income Supplement Program that is funded by general tax revenues. The program makes monthly payments to people with a low income and are age 65 or older, are blind or have a disability. The purpose of SSI is to help meet the basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. The SSI program is available to adults and children, who meet the required eligibility requirements set by the Federal Government. The Social Security Administration manages the SSI program, but it does not pay the SSI benefits with Social Security taxes monies. All SSI benefits are paid for by the U.S. Treasury's General Fund and not with the Social Security trust funds.
Effective January 2009, the SSI payment for an eligible individual is $674 per month and $1,011 per month for an eligible couple. If you are married, and only one person is eligible, a portion of your spouse's income may be counted. In addition to your financial resources (savings and assets you own) they cannot exceed $2,000 (single person) or $3,000 for married couples. You can be eligible for SSI even if you have never worked a job covered under Social Security.
HOW DO I APPLY FOR SSI?
The toll free phone number is 1-800-772-1213 and the representatives are available between 7:00am to 7:00pm EST - Monday through Friday. The Social Security offices advise that you make an appointment to apply for SSI benefits. With an appointment, one of the representatives will help you apply for your benefits. SSI offers appointments to apply for benefits over the telephone or in person at your local Social Security office. You can also receive information by using the automated phone service 24 hours a day. All telephone calls are confidential and are monitored to ensure you receive accurate and courteous service.
Hours of Operation:
Weekdays-5:00AM to 1:00AM EST
Saturdays-5:00AM to 11:00PM EST
Sundays-8:00AM to 11:30PM EST
YOU CAN APPLY FOR SSI BENEFITS BY:
Applying online the SSI website www.segurosocial.gov
Calling them at 1-800-772-1213, or 1-800-325-0778 (TTY) for the deaf or hard of hearing.
Visiting the Social Security office to apply for benefits without making an appointment may cause you to wait awhile. If you make an appointment to apply for SSI benefits, a representative will help you fill out your application. You are allowed to make appointments to apply for benefits over the telephone, in person, have someone else call to make your appointment, or have a friend/or family member assist you with your application. You must provide your personal and work information for them to complete your application concerning SSI eligibility. Most of the forms to apply for SSI benefits are not designed for self-completion, so you or someone on your behalf will be interviewed by a claims representative to complete all the necessary the forms.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS TO QUALIFY FOR SSI?
Aged (age 65 or older)
WHAT WOULD CAUSE ME TO NOT QUALIFY FOR BENEFITS?
If you have an outstanding warrant for your arrest.
A crime that is a felony under the laws of the state in which you live; or a crime punishable by death or imprisonment for more than one year in states that do not classify crimes as felonies.
If you violate a condition of parole or probation. If you are violating a condition of your probation or parole imposed under federal or state laws. You cannot receive benefits for any month in which you violate your probation or parole.
If you are between the age of 18 to 22, you are required to inform the SSI office of your start date or stop date of attending school regularly. If you do not inform the SSI office it may affect your SSI benefits.
WHEN SHOULD I APPLY FOR BENEFITS?
Apply as soon as possible so that you do not lose benefits. Social Security cannot pay benefits for time periods earlier than your application's effective date. If you call to make an appointment to apply and you file an application within 60 days of the call, SSI may use the date of your call as your application filing date. If you do not keep your appointments and you do not contact SSI to reschedule the appointment they will contact you. If they are unable to in touch with you to reschedule the appointment, you will receive a letter. The letter will say that "if you filed an application within 60 days from the date of the letter, they will use the original date of your SSI application." If you are in a public institution (local jail or State/Federal prison), but you will be leaving within a few months, you may not be eligible for SSI benefits until you leave. However, you may be able to apply before you leave so that your SSI benefits will begin soon after you leave. Ask the institution's social services department about filing an application under the "prerelease procedures" to apply for benefits.
OTHER SERVICES AVAILABLE FOR SSI RECIPIENTS:
People who receive SSI MAY BE ELIGIBLE to receive social services from the state in which they are a resident. You can get more information about what services are available in your state by contacting your local social services or
Some services available may include:
Transportation or help with other medical problems
People who receive SSI usually qualify to receive food stamps. You can obtain an application at the Social Security office, local social services or welfare office. (Publication No. 05-10100). If a person receiving SSI is unable to manage their funds, a representative payee (relative/friend/guardian) can be appointed to manage and use the money for the well-being of the person receiving SSI.
SPECIAL RULES FOR CERTAIN STATES:
If you live in one of the following states, you must report additional information to the Social Security Office:
California - You are required to inform the SSI office, if you are regularly eating your meals away from home and now you are eating at home and vice versa.
Hawaii, Michigan and Vermont - You are required to inform SSI, if you live in a facility (ex: Assisted Living Facilities) that provide various levels of care and if your level of care changes; for example, you move from assisted living to a nursing home.
Massachusetts - You are required to inform SSI, if you are paying more than two-thirds of the household living expenses in which you reside (a husband & wife) and if your housing expenses have increased or decreased.
New York - Your rules are the same as California. In addition to that information, you must report:
If you live with other person
How your meals are prepared (by yourself or by another person)
If your current living situation changes.
HOW AND WHEN SHOULD I REPORT CHANGES:
You can report changes by calling your local Social Security office and be sure to have your Social Security number available. You can also report changes by mail or in person at your local Social Security office. If you send a letter it must include the following information:
The name of the person for whom you are reporting the change.
The Social Security number of the person who is receiving SSI.
The change being reported.
The date the change happened.
Your signature, address and phone number.
If you have any questions concerning your Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, please direct all questions to your local Social Security office. This post is to provide information only and it is all public information listed on the Social Security website. You can access the Social Security website at www.segurosocial.gov or call 1-800-772-1213, or 1-800-325-0778 (TTY) for the deaf or hard of hearing.