More than nine million people who are disabled and unable to work rely on monthly payments they receive from one or both of the Social Security disability programs administered by the Social Security Administration. Social Security is not only for the elderly. One in four 20-year-olds will become disabled and be unable to work before they reach retirement age.
The Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs provide monthly cash payments to people with medical conditions that prevent them from working and earning a living. If you become disabled, contact a Social Security disability advocate at London Disability for help filing an application for benefits or to appeal a denial of a claim for benefits. In the meantime, here are some important things you need to know about the benefits you may be entitled to receive.
What are the differences between the two disability programs?
When people refer to disability benefits through Social Security, they most likely mean the Social Security Disability Insurance program or SSDI. To qualify for benefits through SSDI, you must have earned income on which you paid Social Security taxes either through employment or self-employment. Work history and being disabled are the primary requirements you must meet to qualify for benefits.
Another program, Supplemental Security Income or SSI, pays benefits to disabled or blind adults or children. The primary differences between SSI and SSDI are that you need not have worked at a job or through self-employment to qualify for SSI, but you must demonstrate financial need.
Applicants for SSI cannot own financial resources exceeding $2,000 in value or $3,000 in value for couples. SSI also imposes limits on the income a person may have to qualify and remain eligible to receive benefits.
When do disability payments start?
If you qualify for benefits through SSDI, monthly payments may not start immediately after you get the notice approving your application. You must be disabled for at least five months to receive SSDI, so payments would not start until the sixth month after you first become disabled.
Social Security disability benefits through the SSI program are not subject to a waiting period as are SSDI payments. SSI payments begin the first full month after the date of application of the date of eligibility.
The amount you receive through SSDI depends on the average lifetime earnings you had before becoming disabled. As a general rule, the amount of income you receive from other sources does not affect the amount you receive from SSDI, but certain payments, such as those received from workers’ compensation will reduce your SSDI benefits. A consultation with a London Disability SSDI advocate is advisable to find out how payments received from other sources may affect your monthly SSDI benefits.
Individuals eligible for benefits through the SSI program in 2021 may receive up to $794 a month. Couples may receive up to $1,191. The monthly payment that you receive may be less than the maximum if you have other sources of countable income, which would reduce the amount received from SSI. Your benefit would return to its usual amount when the other source of countable income ends, but you should discuss it with an SSI advocate to learn more.
How long do disability benefits continue?
Social Security disability benefits through SSI continue for as long as you remain disabled and meet the financial criteria to be eligible to receive them. On the other hand, SSDI payments do not continue after you reach the age for full retirement. The payments automatically convert to Social Security retirement benefits when you reach retirement age.
An improvement in the medical condition that prevents you from working may cause Social Security to determine that you no longer qualify for SSI or SSDI benefits. If that occurs, you should talk to an SSD advocate about appealing the action taken by Social Security.
Are Social Security disability benefits taxable?
As a general rule, benefits received through SSI would not be taxable. The restrictions on income and assets that you must meet to qualify for benefits make it unlikely that you would have to pay federal income taxes on your SSI benefits. However, benefits through SSDI may be taxable depending upon other income you have available to you.
Individuals receiving SSDI who have more than $25,000 in income reported on their federal income tax return may have to pay income taxes on their benefits. If you file a joint return with your spouse with a combined income over $32,000, your SSDI may be subject to payment of income taxes.
Learn more about your SSD benefits
An SSD advocate from London Disability can be an excellent source of information and guidance when issues arise about Social Security disability benefits. They can assist you with initial applications as well as with challenges to denials or other determinations affecting your right to benefits.