Joplin disability lawyerApplying for Social Security benefits can be a challenging, especially if you are not familiar with the benefits that are available. If you find yourself disabled and want to apply for Social Security disability benefits, you should discuss that with a Joplin disability lawyer. The process requires strict adherence to complex rules regarding both eligibility and the application itself.
Completing the required forms accurately can be overwhelming, or maybe even confusing.  But completing them properly can improve your chances of being approved the first time.  A common question for many clients relates to two specific benefits programs. Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income.  Here is what you need to know.

What is Supplemental Security Income?

Supplemental Security Income is made available on the state level. As such, the eligibility requirements differ from one state to the next. The amount of benefits to which you may be entitled also depend on the state you live in.  There are certain criteria that must be met, based on federal Social Security rules, which include the following:

  • You must be blind, disabled, or age 65 or over
  • You must be either a citizen of the United States or meet other very narrow requirements
  • Your monthly income must be below a certain level, and
  • The property you own must be worth less than $2,000 for an individual, or $3,000 for a couple.

What is Social Security Disability Insurance?

In order to be eligible for SSDI, you have to earn sufficient “work credits,” because SSDI benefits are funded by your payroll taxes. The minimum work credits you must have earned depends on your age when you first become disabled.  Another eligibility requirement for SSDI is that you must be between the ages of 18 and 65 and have worked some part of five years in the ten-year period prior to becoming disabled.

Are these two programs the same?

The Social Security Administration manages two benefits programs intended for disabled individuals: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). There are significant differences between these two programs, however. The major differences are found in the eligibility requirements.  If you have questions as to whether you qualify for benefits, consult a Joplin disability lawyer.

What are the major differences between SSI and SSDI?

One important difference between the two programs is that SSI is entirely a need-based program, whereas SSDI benefits are based on your work history. Your income and assets must be substantially limited, as well.  The Social Security Administration looks at many different sources to determine your income, including the cash value of food stamps you receive and any income tax refunds.
Another difference is that SSDI benefits may be subject to a five-month waiting period. This essentially means, that the first five months after you are certified as disabled, you will not receive benefits. Once that period expires, your monthly benefit payment is based on your record of earnings.  This is similar to Social Security retirement benefits.

What does Social Security look for in determining disability?

A very major difference between SSDI and SSI is the need to prove your disability in order to receive SSDI benefits. When the Social Security Administration makes disability determinations, you will most likely be required to provide 12 months of medical history regarding the condition you claim has resulted in your disability.  This medical information must include “current” records of medical treatment within the past 90 days.
A problem that many SSDI applicants face is the lack of current medical records. That is because many applicants can no longer afford to pay for such treatment.  They are often under a great deal of financial burden due to being unable to return to work, resulting in the loss of medical insurance benefits.  Unfortunately, the medical exams that Social Security provides are not very useful, when it comes to being approved for benefits.  By their very nature, exams conducted by Social Security are inherently biased.

SSI can include retroactive benefits

In a number of cases, an SSI recipient can receive a portion of past-due disability benefits, depending on how long it took for their disability claim to be resolved.  This could mean receiving past benefits back to the first month after the application was submitted.  This can be substantial, considering that it often takes Social Security 3 months to 2 years to finally approve SSI benefits.  This back pay amount is usually paid in a lump sum, unless the amount is very substantial, in which case it may be split into installment payments.
If you have questions regarding Social Security Disability, SSI, SSDI or any other disability issues in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact a Joplin disability lawyer at the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation, either online or by calling toll-free at (888) 433-4861.

Author Photo

Wesley Cottrell

Wes Cottrell earned his B.A. from Pittsburg State University in 1981 and his J.D. from the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas in 1985. He was admitted to practice law in Kansas in 1986, in Missouri in 1987, in Arkansas in 1989, and Oklahoma in 1993. He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.

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