Are you unable to work to due to injury or illness? If so, you may be entitled to financial support through the federal government’s Social Security program. Of course, there are several hoops you must jump through in order to obtain disability-related financial support from the government, which we’re going to discuss further in today’s blog post.
The Social Security Income (SSI) and Supplemental Security Disability Income (SSDI) are the country’s largest and most comprehensive financial disability programs. While they differ in several ways, both SSI and SSDI are intended to provide money to U.S. citizens who are unable to work as a result of an injury or illness. But before Uncle Sam will write you a check, you must go through the somewhat lengthy and complicated application process. Social Security fraud costs taxpayers billions of dollars per year, which is why applicants are forced to jump through so many hoops.
SSI vs SSDI: What’s The Difference?
Let’s first go over the basics of Social Security Income (SSI) and Supplemental Security Disability Income (SSDI), as many people are confused regarding these two terms. Both SSI and SSDI are used to provide financial assistance to American citizens who are unable to work due to injury or illness. However, the main difference between them lies in their eligibility requirements.
In order to receive SSDI, you must be unable to work due to injury or illness and have accumulated a specified number of work credits. This is in stark contrast to SSI, which is given to low-income American citizens who have never worked or haven’t worked long enough to obtain the necessary work credits for SSDI. SSI is referred to as a “means-tested program” which basically means that work history is not a prerequisite for eligibility.
American citizens who are eligible to receive SSI are typically also eligible for Medicaid, food stamps and other government programs.
Check Your Income
If you’re thinking about applying for social security disability benefits, you’ll need to check your income to see if you qualify. As noted by Nolo.com, you are allowed to work a small amount and still obtain SSDI – as long as your income is under the substantial gainful activity (SGA) amount, which is $1,090 per month for the calendar year 2015.
“For SSDI, which is the benefit program for workers who have paid into the Social Security system over multiple years, one of the most basic reasons you could be denied benefits is that, when you apply, you are working above the limit where it is considered ‘substantial gainful activity’ (SGA). This means you earn too much money to be considered disabled,” wrote the legal expert at Nolo.com. “You are allowed to work a small amount when you’re applying for and collecting SSDI, but not over the SGA limit, which is $1,090 per month in 2015 (for non-blind people).”
Are You Disabled?
Just because you experience back pain or muscle cramps doesn’t necessarily mean that you are disabled in the eyes of the federal government. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA) website, they determine an applicant’s eligibility for disability benefits based on the following factors:
- If you are earning more than $1,090 per month, you are not considered disabled.
- Your condition must be classified as “severe,” meaning it interferes with basic work activities.
- People suffering from one or more of the conditions listed here are automatically considered disabled.
- Can you perform the work you did previously? If so, you may not be considered to be disabled by the SSA.
- If you can do other types of work, the SSA may deny your application.
Follow The Doctor’s Orders
If the doctor prescribes medicine or recommends a certain course of therapy, or both, you must follow his or her advice. Failure to listen to your medical practitioner could result in your application for social security disability benefits being denied. The SSA pays close attention to medical records and whether or not the applicant has followed the doctor’s treatment.
Provide Supporting Documents
Don’t underestimate the importance of providing documents to support your disability claim. Applicants should ask friends, family members and past coworkers to write letters on their behalf, explaining the applicant’s condition and how it has affected their ability to work. Supporting letters such as this should be brief and straight to the point; otherwise, the administrative law judge who presides over the claim hearing may simply disregard them altogether.
You should also have these supporting documents notarized by a state-appointed public notary. While the SSA doesn’t require them to be notarized, going the extra step to do so will strengthen the validity of your claim.
You can find a notary in your area by using our services here at SuperiorNotaryServices.com.
How Soon Before I Receive My Benefits?
There’s no easy answer to this question, as it varies depending on a number of different factors. Generally speaking, though, people who qualify and are accepted for SSI will begin to receive their benefits starting on the first of the next month.
Obtaining SSDI is usually a bit more time-consuming. The average waiting period for SSDI is roughly five months, and that’s not taking into account other factors. So if you happen to fall and break your leg, you can expect to wait about six months before receiving your first benefits check.
You can learn more about where and how to apply for social security disability benefits by visiting http://ssa.gov/planners/disability/dapply.html.