How to collect Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and Supplemental Security Income benefits at the same time?

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Can I collect Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and Supplemental Security Income benefits at the same time?

The Social Security Administration runs two programs that provide disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). SSDI pays disability benefits to “insured workers.” An “insured worker,” for purposes of SSDI, is someone who pays FICA taxes (“FICA” stands for “Federal Insurance Contributions Act”). SSDI also pays benefits for the disabled children of insured workers, so long as the children became disabled before they reached the age of 22, as well as to the disabled surviving spouses of deceased insured workers.

SSI, on the other hand, pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have little or no income, or other financial resources. The program also provides benefits to adults without disabilities who are age 65 or older and whose financial means fall within the applicable limits.

As an example, suppose that Edith Keeler, who rents an apartment in Springfield, Ohio, is 45 years old, is unmarried and has liver cancer. Her medical condition has forced her to stop working, leaving her with no income.

Edith decides to apply for disability benefits. She visits a Social Security Administration field office and submits an application. An examiner reviews her application and then forwards it to Disability Determination Services (“DDS”). DDS, a network of local Social Security Administration field offices and state agencies, is responsible for determining whether an applicant for disability benefits has a disability that qualifies under the applicable rules. In Edith’s case, DDS determines that she is disabled. Therefore, she is eligible to receive SSDI benefits.

In order to be eligible to receive SSI benefits, Edith’s financial resources and monthly income—including her SSDI benefits—must be less than the corresponding amounts established under the Social Security Administration’s guidelines. All of the property that Edith owns (for example, bank accounts, cars, cash, real estate, and stocks and bonds) constitutes her “resources.” Edith rents her apartment and does not own any real estate, nor does she own any stocks or bonds. She does own one car worth $1,500.00, and she has $250.00 in a checking account. Edith otherwise owns no property. She also has no income because she is unemployed as the result of her medical condition.

Currently, the limit on the value of a single applicant’s resources (property, in plain language) is $2,000.00. Some resources, however, are exempt and do not count towards this limit. Among other things, an applicant can exempt one house and one car. Accordingly, Edith has resources worth only a total of $250.00 (the balance in her checking account) because her car is exempt.

With respect to the monthly income limit, the Social Security Administration uses a formula to determine eligibility. The value of Edith’s resources is under the limit, and because Edith has no income, she would probably be eligible to receive SSI benefits.

Given that Edith is disabled for purposes of SSDI, and given that her financial resources and income are under the limits applicable to SSI, Edith is eligible to receive both SSDI benefits and SSI benefits. The total amount of Edith’s monthly benefit, however, cannot be more than the maximum possible benefit that she would receive from SSI alone. For 2011, the maximum monthly SSI benefit for a single recipient is $674.00.

In other words, were Edith to receive $600.00 per month in SSDI benefits, then her total monthly benefit would still be $674.00, which would consist of $600.00 per month from SSDI and $74.00 per month from SSI. Were Edith eligible to receive $700.00 per month from SSDI, then she would not be eligible to receive any SSI benefits.

ssi payment amount Applying for either of these programs can be complicated, and qualifying is often difficult. The examples above have been simplified and are offered only to give a very basic understanding of SSDI and SSI. In fact, a significant percentage of applications in Ohio are initially denied by the Social Security Administration. When an application is denied, however, the applicant has the right to appeal. If you would like more information or have been wrongfully denied Social Security Benefits then call the Law Offices of John T. Nicholson at 1-800-596-1533 or complete our online free consultation form.

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6 Responses to How to collect Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and Supplemental Security Income benefits at the same time?

  1. Chris says:

    As is evident, contacting a lawyer will definitely aid in an individual’s chance of being accepted into any Social Security/Supplemental Security programs. During this period of life for many disabled individuals, it is often very difficult to “go it alone” as well. Having a lawyer who is very proficient in legal matters will undoubtedly be very useful and allow an individual to get the most out of their supplemental income.

    I am glad you wrote this article as well, if I might add. The information is very interesting. I always enjoy learning about the law, even if it does not really have to do anything with me currently. Having some understanding of the options a disabled individual has when it comes to receiving some supplemental money is very important because a disability can come and take any of us, at any time. No one asks to be disabled, so it is great that the government does try to help people who genuinely need the assistance. Unfortunately, we don’t have all the money to spend either; which is probably one reason why so many people are rejected from these programs.

    Again, having a lawyer will help you get accepted into programs like these!

  2. Sammy the Turk says:

    How in the world can the Government expect a person to live off of only $674 dollars a month? After they take out money for medicare I pretty much have nothing left after my rent. I do get food stamps but this is ridiculous. I only draw SSI and I found this blog while trying to figure out if I could get SSDI on top of what I get now. This is all from George Bush Senior getting his way I’m guessing.

  3. LilyPad says:

    My sister barely gets by on her social security check. She thinks that we are rich because my husband is a welder and ask us for help all of the time. I do feel bad that she can’t work anymore after her leg was amputated after a car wreck.

    I emailed her this link about a few days ago about people in the same boat with her http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/general/2005-08-15-getting-by-usat_x.htm

    I am trying to find supplemental programs in Ohio that can help her. Any ideas? Thank-you.

    -Lily

  4. Xeymom says:

    This is wild. How do you people live? It seems like you have to work if this is all that you can get drawing disability!

  5. AllenSmithee says:

    Sammy, it is my understanding from reading another blog on this site that you cannot draw SSDI on top of what you are getting in SSI. You might consider a ticket to work, or trying to see if you qualify for Section 8 housing. That might put a little extra money in your budget each month.

    Lily, tell your sister to keep the faith and she is not alone. As a social worker I deal with a lot and I mean A LOT of folks that need help and have feelings of hopelessness. I know it is hard but its important that she tries to keep a good attitude.

  6. KurtisE says:

    Thank you Mr. Nicholson.

    Clarity, brevity, a notable lack of editorial, all appreciated.

    To Sammy and Xeymom : Disability Insurance is not a free ride. It is not supposed to be easy street. It is merely a floor, below which people are not supposed to be allowed to sink. Also, one must count Food Stamps and Medicare. This, too, does not make things easy, but it does make things possible, most of the time, if one is careful.

    In my case, the total resembles a minimum wage job, if you allow that I am not paying tax. This means I can pay (low) rent, but cannot on my own convince a landlord that I will, even though my references say I always have. Thus, due to a surprise, I have been homeless for months, with money, and now have my dear Sister cosigning so I may move indoors.

    Yeah. It sucks. But I am not dead. And would be, Without these benefits. More would be nice, I am thinking specifically of Section 8, which would move me up to the poverty line, but I appreciate what I have been given.

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