While there are two common disability programs for adults – Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – many people don’t know the difference. First and foremost, the disability criteria for evaluating each claim is the same under both programs administered by the Social Security Administration. SSD and SSI are both designed to support disabled individuals with a monetary amount as well as a form of insurance, however, the technical criteria that initially define eligibility are completely different.
On one hand, SSD benefits are available to those who have worked for a prolonged period in the past, accumulating “work credits” as a basis for the funds they will receive under this program. SSI benefits, on the other hand, are available to disabled individuals with little or no income who have not earned enough work credits to qualify for SSD (or were a low-wage earner, potentially allowing eligibility for both programs). In order to qualify for SSI, you must have a very limited income and assets — not more than $2000 for an individual and not more than $3,000 for a married couple. Whereas your spouse’s income will not affect your SSD benefits, it can interfere with obtaining SSI benefits.
Why Having a Disability Attorney Is Essential
As you probably know, navigating government bureaucracy can be both tedious and frustrating. When you are doing so as a means of obtaining funds and support to help sustain you and your family, the convoluted steps involved in the process can add unnecessary stress. This is where having an experienced, compassionate disability attorney on your side can make all the difference.
At Disability Law Group, we have committed ourselves to making this process easier for you even if you have applied before. Once you become our client, we will clarify in simple terms what you can expect, obtain all necessary medical and supportive evidence, as well as stand up for you in your dealings with the government. We understand how much is at stake for you and your loved ones and we will fight tirelessly for you to obtain the benefits you deserve. Our mission is clear – every client matters – and we take that position seriously.
How SSD and SSI Are Funded
SSD is funded through payroll taxes. All workers make contributions, deducted from their paychecks to the Social Security trust fund as part of the FICA Social Security taxes. In order to be eligible for SSD, candidates must be, with rare exceptions: between the ages of 18 and 65 and to have earned the requisite number of work credits during their working years. Once the disabled individual has been receiving SSD for two years, he or she becomes eligible for Medicare.
Also, working to your advantage if you’re applying for SSD, once you qualify for benefits you will receive retroactive payments back to the time you first became disabled depending on how soon you file your application. The benefit amount each month will be based on your previous earnings record and are, therefore, specific to each person. In addition to the monthly amount and potential back-pay awarded, recipients may also receive Medicare coverage once awarded SSD.
SSI, unlike SSD, is funded by general taxes rather than from the Social Security trust fund. Those who qualify for SSI are usually eligible for Medicaid and food stamps as well. While it may take months to receive your first SSI check, you may receive retroactive payments as far back as the month after your SSI application was submitted.
Filing for Benefits
There are a number of ways to file for SSD or SSI benefits in Michigan: you can go to one of the SSA offices local to you, by telephone (at 800-772-1213), and online (at ssa.gov). An experienced disability attorney in Michigan, familiar with what is required, can help you navigate the process from start to finish so that you don’t have to worry about missing critical paperwork or deadlines.
One of our skilled attorneys, who specialize in disability benefits in Michigan, can assist you in preparing and submitting your application so that you enter the process confident and calm. Many people trying to handle this procedure on their own only to experience the extreme inconvenience of having to return to the SSA office on another day because they are missing a required piece of information or for more details that could have been avoided.
Much of the information you will have to present includes details about the condition that has disabled you. This means you will have to submit your medical or psychiatric diagnosis, a list of doctors who have treated you (along with their contact information), hospitals and clinics you have visited, prescribed medications you are taking, and any other relevant medical data. Additionally, for SSD and SSI, you may have to provide records of income-producing work you have done, such as pay stubs and tax forms. Having a disability attorney with you along the way can alleviate the stress of compiling evidence as well as communicating with the government in following-up on your claim.
Is it possible to receive both SSD and SSI at the same time?
In some situations, it is possible to receive both SSD and SSI simultaneously — a process commonly referred to as “concurrent benefits.” To receive concurrent benefits, you must be approved for SSD with a low monthly benefit amount and determined to still be in need of further public assistance under the criteria established for SSI outlined above. In some cases, even higher wage earners whose SSD amount is too high to allow for monthly SSI payments, may be entitled to SSI payments for a period of time in the past – referred to as retroactive pay or back-pay during a time they were considered disabled. An experienced disability attorney, well-versed in the differences between the two programs, can help you understand your circumstances to maximize what you may be entitled to so that you don’t lose out on benefits owed to you.
Appealing a Disability Decision in Michigan
In most cases, once you file a disability application, you will receive a decision in writing from Social Security within 4 to 6 months. While about two-thirds of disability applications are turned down at first, you do have the right to appeal. However, Social Security imposes a strict deadline for which appeals must be filed in order to pursue a disability case further. A significant number of benefits are granted on appeal following a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge. Similar to the application stage, having an attorney with you to help you file an appeal if needed and represent you at court can be invaluable.
Let Us Help You Succeed in Getting the Benefits You Deserve
At Disability Law Group, our entire staff is welcoming and supportive. We always take your concerns seriously and respond promptly to your questions and updates. No one should feel alone in seeking assistance needed and deserved, especially with so much at stake. We are available to help answer your questions about the process and help you at every stage. You can reach us by phone, email, or by filling out a contact form on our website.