When you apply for disability benefits, it’s important to know exactly what you may qualify for. Do you qualify for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) or supplemental security income (SSI)?
We have written on the differences between SSDI and SSI, so we won’t give as much detail here. In this article, we want to clarify the possibility of collecting both types of benefits.
Many people beginning the disability claim process don’t realize that it is possible to qualify for both SSDI and SSI within the same period. We want to make sure you are aware of this option and inform you of how you might qualify.
Let’s first discuss the criteria for each type of disability benefit and how you may qualify for both at the same time.
SSI and SSDI: How You Can Qualify at the Same Time
The major differences between SSDI and SSI are the work history and income criteria. Whereas SSDI is based on the number of Social Security work credits you’ve earned, SSI is based on your level of income and resources.
If you have a disability and a work history of paying into Social Security, you qualify for SSDI.
If you are aged, blind, or disabled and have limited income and resources, you most likely qualify for SSI.
Please keep in mind that these are very simplified statements. There is a little more to your eligibility than just the abovementioned criteria, but these are the basic requirements.
Notice that the criteria for these two different benefits programs do not necessarily contradict each other. You can…
- Be aged, blind, or disabled;
- Have a work history of paying into Social Security;
- And have limited income and resources
…thus qualifying you to receive both types of benefits.
There is often an assumption that our personal definition of disability is the same as the Social Security Administration’s (SSA).
Know that how Social Security defines disability is much more stringent than how most of us would define that term. Your medical condition must be considered severe enough to impair your ability to substantially provide for yourself (and your family, if you have one).
We discuss Social Security’s definition of disability in greater detail in another article. If you’re unsure whether your disability meets Social Security’s specific criteria, we recommend reading that article for further information on whether you qualify for benefits.
If your medical condition does in fact meet the definition of disability, you may next determine whether to apply for both SSDI and SSI at the same time. The SSA in their overview uses the term “concurrent” to describe those who qualify for both the SSDI and the SSI programs.
Let’s say you have a history of earning Social Security work credits, but your individual income and assets are low. In 2022, Social Security’s income limit for SSI is $1,767 for individuals—if received only from wages—and other resources must equal less than $2,000 altogether.
In some states, the income limit is higher. If you are working while disabled, you may still qualify for SSI because some of your income does not count towards the limit.
If you become disabled or reach retirement age in the above scenario, you may receive SSI in addition to SSDI depending on your SSDI benefit amount.
Typically, concurrent benefits would be awarded if your SSDI benefit amount is low due to…
- A less extensive work history (i.e., you qualify for SSDI, but you didn’t work enough for your SSDI payments to be very high);
- Low wages during your employment; or
- Becoming disabled at a younger age before you had the chance to build your career.
If any of the above are true for you, there may be a chance that you qualify for concurrent benefits. It is important to note that SSDI payments do count toward the income limit for SSI.
In most cases, an individual’s SSDI payment will be too high to also qualify for SSI.
To really get a sense of whether you qualify for concurrent benefits, the wisest course of action is to get an online disability case evaluation conducted by a legal professional.
He or she can help you determine whether your work history, income level, and disability status together make you eligible to receive concurrent benefit payments.
Now, let’s turn to how your concurrent benefit amount is calculated.
Your Concurrent Benefit Monthly Amount
In 2022, the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR) for Supplemental Security Income is $841 per month maximum for an eligible individual. For couples who qualify for SSI benefits, the FBR is $1,261 per month.
Your SSDI benefit must be below the FBR to be eligible for concurrent SSI payments. If you do receive SSDI payments, it is likely that you will not receive the maximum SSI monthly benefit amount.
Again, the amount you receive in SSDI benefits counts towards the SSI income limit of $1,767 in 2022.
There is a workaround for beneficiaries that you should be aware of when applying for disability income.
Extra income can be funneled into an ABLE account, which is a tax-advantaged savings account for those with disabilities and their families. The purpose of this type of account is to help disabled individuals pay for the costs incurred by their medical condition that are not otherwise covered.
Income earned by an ABLE account will not be taxed. Most importantly for this discussion, funds in your ABLE account will not count against the income limit for SSI.
Your ABLE account may grow up to $100,000 before Social Security considers the funds in your account as countable income.
An ABLE account will also not count against your eligibility for other government assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, FAFSA, and HUD.
Though there are limits, you should know that it is possible to work and collect disability benefits. Your earnings from work will be counted toward the income limit for SSI.
However, Social Security deducts Impairment-Related Work Expenses (IRWE) from your income and does not count them toward the limit.
Social Security gives an extensive example of how concurrent benefits are calculated in a situation where the beneficiary decides to go back to work. It’s worth reading to get a better idea of how SSDI, SSI, and earned wages impact each other in a real-life scenario.
What's the bottom line?
While the total amount of concurrent benefits cannot exceed the FBR amount of $841 per month, exact benefit amounts vary on a case-by-case basis.
You can get an estimate of how much you will receive. But keep in mind that what you actually receive in benefits may not reflect that estimated amount. You will not know for sure until your disability claim application has been approved.
Let's now discuss the biggest advantages of applying for concurrent benefits.
Advantages to a Concurrent Claim
You may be wondering, “Why bother with applying for concurrent benefits?”
If your SSDI payment is likely to be lower than the FBR monthly amount, it is in your best interest to apply for SSI as well. That way, you are more likely to receive the maximum benefit amount to which you’re entitled.
The secondary advantage to a concurrent disability claim is that you would receive both Medicare and Medicaid coverage.
Typically, SSDI recipients are covered by Medicare while SSI recipients are covered by Medicaid. Though Medicaid pays for more medical services than Medicare, it can be difficult to find a provider. Unfortunately, not as many providers accept Medicaid. Medicare is more widely accepted.
When you collect concurrent benefits, you receive both Medicare and Medicaid. Basically, you get the best of both worlds and more insurance protection.
Applying for Concurrent Benefits
When you begin the application process, make sure you apply for both the SSDI and the SSI program.
You will be required to gather information and documentation regarding your…
- Medical condition
- Work history and earnings
…that will help Social Security with evaluating your claim.
Essentially, you will need to build a compelling case with evidence for why the government should award you disability benefits. This can get a bit overwhelming, especially when it comes to medical documentation. We have an article with some tips that can help you gather all of the information needed for your application.
There are some advantages to applying online rather than in person:
- You don’t have to wait for an appointment to start your disability claim.
- You can apply from the comfort of your own home or wherever you can access a computer.
- You can stop and return to your saved application before submitting it.
- You avoid trips to a Social Security office, which saves valuable time.
- You can complete the process online even if you don’t live in the United States.
After you submit your claim, Social Security will notify you if you are not eligible for one of the programs. They may determine you ineligible due to either work history or financial status.
First, the SSA verifies your medical condition and evaluates whether it fits their definition of disability. Once they deem your condition a disability, the claims examiner will assess your work history, income, and assets to determine which benefits you will receive.
Once the SSA makes its decision, they will inform you by mail about whether your disability claim was accepted or denied, and which benefit(s) you will be awarded.
Do You Need Disability Benefits Assistance?
Determining your eligibility for benefits is the first step in your claim process. You don’t want to waste your time on a long, tedious application only to find out you were never eligible.
It is important to assess whether…
- Your medical condition meets the definition of disability
- Your work history qualifies you for SSDI benefits
- Your income and resources fall beneath the SSA’s limits for SSI
Completing this assessment on your own can quickly become overwhelming. It’s easy to get confused and bogged down in details. For many people, having an experienced third party evaluate their disability case alleviates unneeded stress.
At BenefitsClaim.com, we offer a free online disability case evaluation. The legal professionals on our team will walk with you through your case to help determine whether you’re eligible for concurrent benefits.
We do not charge a retainer or any up-front costs or fees for this service. Our disability case evaluation really is free.
Begin the process by taking our quick survey. Provide your contact information so that someone from our team can get in touch with you. After determining that you’re eligible, you can then choose to hire one of our experienced legal professionals to assist you with your disability claim application.
Our mission is to help Americans in need get the benefits they deserve. If you have any questions, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leave a Reply