Yes. In some cases, you may be able to qualify for both Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) refers to this as concurrent benefits. People who are eligible to receive both types disability benefits are typically only entitled to a comparatively small SSDI benefit.
Below, we review the basic qualifications of SSI and SSDI and when you might be eligible for both. For help with your disability benefits or for specific questions about the claims process, call a disability lawyer in Raleigh at Lunn and Forro, PLLC for a free consultation: 888-966-6566.
What are the criteria for SSI and SSDI?
SSI and SSDI are the two benefit programs administered by the SSA. These benefits are for people living with disabilities who are unable to work.
SSDI is a benefit for disabled workers who have paid into the Social Security system. Typically workers pay into the system through payroll taxes at their job. You must have a certain number of work credits on your record to qualify.
SSI, on the other hand, is not based on work history, but on financial need. It is a benefit for people without sufficient work credits who have very limited income and limited resources. Your income and assets must fall below a certain threshold to qualify.
To qualify for concurrent benefits, you must be eligible for SSDI, but your payments must be low. Your SSDI payments might be low when:
- Your work history is not extensive (i.e., you worked enough to qualify for SSDI, but not enough to make your SSDI payments very high);
- You earned low wages during your employment; or
- You became disabled at a fairly young age, before building your career and work history.
When might I qualify for concurrent disability benefits?
Your SSDI benefit must be below the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR) to be eligible to receive SSI and SSDI benefits simultaneously. (In 2017, the FBR is $735. It might increase a little each year to adjust for the cost of living.) The average SSDI monthly benefit in 2016 was $1,032.25, but some recipients’ payments are much lower. If your SSDI benefit is less than $735 and you meet the additional financial requirements for SSI, you might be eligible for concurrent benefits.
The financial criteria for SSI are complicated. Because it is a need-based program, the SSA looks at all your income including both earned (such as from a part-time job) and unearned (such as from inheritances and SSDI benefits), minus certain exceptions. To qualify for SSI, your countable income must be less than $735/month and the value of your assets and resources must be less than $2,000.
So, if your total monthly countable income — including your SSDI benefit — amounts to less than $735 and your allotted assets fall under $2,000, you would qualify for both benefits.
How much will my SSI benefit be?
The SSA caps SSI benefits at $735/month. Any SSDI benefit you receive will offset your SSI benefit, and the total amount of concurrent benefits you receive will not exceed $735.
Here is an example of how concurrent benefits work. Jane received a letter from the SSA notifying her that she was eligible for disability benefits. She began receiving SSI the month after her claim was accepted. She was eligible for the full amount of SSI of $735/month.
After the mandatory five-month waiting period for SSDI benefits to kick in, Jane began receiving monthly SSDI benefits in the amount of $500/month. This automatically reduced her SSI benefits to $235. In total, Jane’s concurrent benefits are $735.
What are the benefits of pursuing a concurrent disability claim?
Obviously, the primary benefit of pursuing SSI even when you qualify for SSDI is that SSI could boost your monthly payments up to $735.
The secondary benefit to concurrent benefits is that you could have additional insurance options. SSI recipients are eligible for Medicaid, and SSDI recipients are typically eligible for Medicare. Medicaid pays for more health services than Medicare does, but Medicare is more widely accepted by providers than Medicaid, so it is easier to find a provider.
If you receive concurrent benefits and both Medicare and Medicaid, you have the best of both worlds and extra insurance protection.
How do I apply for concurrent disability benefits?
You should apply for both programs when you file a claim with Social Security. You will be notified if you are not eligible for one of the programs based on either your work history or financial status.
Once the SSA verifies your impairment and deems you disabled, the claims examiner will assess your work history, income, and assets and determine whether your claim is concurrent. The SSA will inform you by mail as to whether it has accepted or denied your claim, and which benefit(s) it will be awarding you.
Can Lunn and Forro help me file for SSI and SSDI in Raleigh?
Lunn and Forro, PLLC accepts all types of disability cases in Raleigh and the surrounding areas. We know how much disability benefits can mean for a family, and we are passionate about advocating for our clients’ rights. Our disability lawyers can step in and help at any stage of the claims process. We can:
- Review your history and case information;
- Determine eligibility for SSDI and/or SSI;
- Estimate your monthly benefits;
- Assist with claim paperwork and documentation; and
- Facilitate the appeals process if the SSA denies your claim.
We have a contingency fee policy, which means we do not get paid unless you win your benefits, so there are never any upfront legal fees for you to worry about. Call our office in Raleigh today at 888-966-6566 to learn more about how we may be of service to you.