One of the primary concerns for people considering applying for Social Security is whether they can get enough to make ends meet. While Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are similar when determining whether a person is eligible, the calculation of how much you can get on each is different. Experienced SSI lawyers can help you figure out exactly how much you can get if you are approved for SSDI or SSI.
What’s the Difference Between SSDI and SSI Qualifications?
The main difference between SSDI and SSI is the way in which you can be eligible for each benefit. You may be eligible for SSDI if you have worked enough to qualify. However, qualification for SSI is based on low-income status if you have never worked or have not worked enough to qualify for SSDI.
In order to qualify for SSDI, you must have accumulated 40 work credits, 20 of which must have been within the past 10 years. Work credits are accumulated while working and paying Social Security income taxes. Thus, if you had a job, such as some types of self-employment, where you did not pay Social Security income taxes, you may not have accumulated work credits during that time. You may accumulate up to a maximum of four work credits in one year. The number of credits you get depends on how much you earn in a year. You get one credit for your firs $1,260 of earnings and the maximum number of credits for earning $5,040 in one year. If you have worked for an employer and paid Social Security income taxes while earning at least $5,040 for the past 10 years, you likely qualify for SSDI.
SSI, on the other hand, does not require that you have ever worked in order to qualify. If you earn less than $733 per month for individuals, or $1,100 for couples, you may meet the federal benefit rate (FBR) requirements. However, not everything counts as “income.” For example, any assistance you receive from the government, including food stamps, housing assistance, and home energy assistance, do not qualify as income. Additionally, a portion of your initial earnings are not counted in your FBR calculation, and some earnings from other people in your house may not count. Thus, if you earn more than the stated FBR, you may still qualify for SSI benefits after income calculations are completed.
Calculating SSDI and SSI Payments
It can be extremely difficult to determine exactly how much you can get through SSDI or SSI. Both use complex formulas that consider your past earnings, current earnings, and assets. The severity of your disability is not considered when determining how much you can get. You must first qualify for the benefit program, and then how much you will get monthly is calculated separately.
SSDI calculations are extremely complicated; however, most people earn between $700 and $1,700 per month while on SSDI. The amount of SSDI you get depends on how much you have earned during your periods of work credit. Thus, it is impossible to know how much each person will earn without first contacting the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA will tell you how much income you’ve had and how much SSDI that may qualify you for if you become disabled. The maximum SSDI benefit for 2016 is $2,639 monthly. Other forms of disability and earned income may reduce that payment amount.
If you have worked and paid Social Security income taxes over the past 10 years, you will likely qualify for SSDI payments based on your work credits. However, the amount that you earned will determine how much you can get each month.
In 2016, people who are eligible for SSI will earn a base rate of $733 per month for an individual. If you are married or your spouse also qualifies for SSI, you may get up to $1,100 for a couple. However, if you have income, the amount you earn may reduce that base rate. Some, but not all, of your earnings would be subtracted from the federal base rate in order to calculate your SSI payment.
Social Security will not subtract your first $85 in earnings each month from your payments. Then, they will divide your earnings in half and subtract that amount from your base rate. For example, if you earn $385 per month, Social Security would only consider $300 of your income. They would then divide that in half and subtract $150 from the base rate of $733. You would receive $583 in SSI benefits.
There are a plethora of sources of money that may not be counted as income or subtracted from your base rate benefit. Additionally, you may be eligible for a state supplement on top of the federal government’s SSI payment. SSI lawyers can help you better understand how much you might get on SSI.
SSDI/SSI Eligibility May Change
Your SSI lawyers can tell you that the amount that you can get for SSDI or SSI increases annually. Similarly, the amount that you can earn while receiving those benefits increases annually also. Thus, if you do not qualify for SSDI or SSI today, you may qualify in the future.
If you do not have enough work credits right now, but continue to work with restrictions or accommodations through disability and later become completely disabled, you may have accumulated enough work credits to qualify for SSDI. Even if you are denied benefits, you should apply again with the help of a knowledgeable SSDI attorney.
Although income may disqualify you for SSI benefits today, if your income decreases or if the amount you can earn goes up, you may qualify at a later date. If you are deemed disabled and your base rate amount is $0, that can change.
To Learn More, Contact SSI Lawyers With Experience
Contact SSI lawyers to find out if and when you may be eligible for SSI. Call Jonathan M. Feigenbaum, Esq. today.