1. I can get SSDI only after I’ve been disabled for a year.
Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are for workers whose disability has lasted or is expected to last a year, or expected to result in death. You should apply for benefits as soon as you receive such a diagnosis.
2. I can’t get SSDI benefits if I’m receiving workers’ compensation.
You may be entitled to payments from both programs at the same time, although receiving workers’ comp benefits may reduce the amount of your SSDI payment.
If the total amount of your SSDI benefits (including money family members receive), plus your workers’ comp and any other public disability benefits is more than 80 percent of your average current earnings, the excess will be deducted from your SSDI benefit. This is known as the “workers’ compensation offset.”
There are various formulas for calculating average current earnings. Some public benefits – such as veterans’ benefits and private pensions or insurance – aren’t counted. You should not let your workers’ comp benefits hold up your SSDI claim.
3. I can’t get SSI if I own a house or land, or even a car.
Supplemental Security Income may be available for individuals whose disability keeps them from working for a living. It assists people who are 65 years old or older, blind or disabled, and who have low income and few resources.
Usually an individual can get SSI if his or her resources are worth no more than $2,000. A couple may be able to get SSI if their resources are worth no more than $3,000.
The Social Security Administration will consider any bank accounts, cash, stocks, bonds and real estate you own. However, your house and the land it is on, and your car (unless it is a luxury vehicle) are not counted. Insurance policies worth $1,500 or less, burial plots for you and members of your immediate family, and up to $1,500 in burial funds for you and your spouse (each) are also exempt.
4. I can’t get SSDI or SSI benefits if I have a job.
The Social Security Administration wants beneficiaries of its disability programs to work if they can. You can work and still receive monthly SSDI or SSI payments, as well as Medicare or Medicaid, if your pay does not exceed the allowable maximum ($1,070 per month or $1,800 for blind claimants as of 2014).
The SSA’s Work Incentives policy also allows a nine-month trial work period without changes to your benefits regardless of how much you earn. The nine months do not have to be consecutive. They may be accumulated at any point over a 60-month (five-year) period. Additional work incentive programs may apply to your situation.
5. I have to be near retirement age to get SSDI or SSI benefits.
SSDI and SSI are not retirement programs. They are for people who cannot work for a living because of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment due to illness, injury or birth defect.
The amount of SSDI benefits a person may receive is based on contributions to the Social Security trust fund through Social Security taxes on the claimant’s earnings. Older workers may receive a bigger payment, but eligible workers may benefit from the program at any age.
Supplemental Security Income benefits, which often go to young adults who have never worked for a living, are administered by Social Security but do not come from Social Security taxes.
6. Hiring a lawyer to help with my SSDI or SSI claim is too expensive.
Social Security regulations limit what a lawyer can charge for assisting with SSDI and SSI claims. Lawyers’ fees are contingency-based, which means you pay nothing unless and until you are awarded benefits. Even then, what you pay is limited to 25 percent of the total amount of past-due benefits you are granted, with a cap of $6,000.
Our lawyers can address your questions and concerns about the SSI or SSDI benefits that you may qualify for. We can also help you apply for benefits, or appeal a denied claim to help ensure you receive the maximum benefits you deserve.
Call us now in New York or New Jersey or fill out our online form for a free initial consultation.