If you are confused and frustrated about the different Social Security programs it may help to know you're not alone.  Social Security has several different programs, many of them sound similar or have overlapping requirements.  This has been a source of confusion and frustration for many of our clients. 

When people talk about “disability benefits,” they are generally referring to Social Security Disability Income.  SSDI is based on your past earnings.  When you are working, a deduction is taken out of your paycheck every month and put into a pool of money.  If you become disabled you can receive monthly benefits paid out of the pool of money.  How much you  get in monthly benefits depends on how much you put into the system.  Your benefit amount could be as little as nothing  or as much as 25 hundred dollars a month,  which is the cap for Social Security disability benefits.

To qualify for SSDI there are work requirements.  If you are over 31 you must have worked five of the last ten years.  It's a sad fact , many people become disabled at a young age because they are born with a serious medical condition or suffer a severe accident or illness.  Individuals who become disabled prior to age 31 still need to have a sufficient work history to qualify, but Social Security holds them to a different standard.  Social Security understands that people who become disabled at a young age simply haven’t had time to develop the same work history as someone who becomes disabled later in life. 

Many times people are unable to work, but do not meet the work requirements for SSDI.  Social Security has a program for them called Supplemental Secured Income, or SSI.  This is similar to disability insurance.  It provides a monthly benefit to individuals who are unable to work, however it is not based on your past earnings.  Instead, it is based on your income and assets.  Social Security looks at your earned and unearned income  for your household to make sure you do not make too much money to qualify.  And they look at your assets.  To qualify you are limited to two thousand dollars in assets for an individual and the limit for a couple is three thousand dollars in assets.  If you qualify for SSI, Social Security will pay you 7 hundred and ten dollars a month.

Social Security also provides Childhood Disability Benefits where a child can receive benefits based on the parent’s earnings.   To be eligible for childhood disability benefits, the child must be unmarried and younger than 18 years old or have a disability that began before the age of 22..  They must be the child of a person who receives either retirement benefits or disability benefits and be dependent upon that person. 

So, If you are confused and frustrated about the different Social Security programs, let us help sort things out.  For a free evaluation of your case call us.  At Cuddigan Law you have a dedicated team of professionals in your corner who understand the system and who will fight for your rights.  



Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska