If a long-term disability is preventing you from gainful employment, you may qualify for one of two government programs – Social Security Disability or supplemental security income (SSI). The programs have many similarities, but requirements to qualify for each program are quite different. Read on for more information about these federal disability programs and what benefits you may receive if you are eligible.
What Conditions are Covered?
Social Security Disability and SSI use the same listing manual of qualifying conditions to determine eligibility. If a medical complication is preventing you from working, the list below will help you determine if your condition qualifies you for benefits under either of these programs. According to the 2017 listing manual, covered conditions include:
- Musculoskeletal conditions, including back and spine injuries
- Cardiovascular problems, including heart disease
- Speech or sensory conditions, such as hearing or vision loss
- Respiratory problems, such as emphysema and COPD
- Neurological conditions, including cerebral palsy and epilepsy
- Mental disorders, including depression
- Disorders of the immune system, such as HIV and lupus
- Skin conditions, including dermatitis
- Problems with the digestive tract, such as irritable bowel syndrome
- Kidney problems
- Hematological conditions
- Other disorders
If you are unable to work due to any of the above conditions, you will likely qualify for one of these programs. However, if you have a condition that is not listed above, you may still be eligible for benefits. If, for example, Social Security considers your condition to be a medical equivalent of one of its listed conditions, you can qualify by “equaling a disability listing.” And even if you don’t equal the listing manual’s criteria, you may still be approved if your condition limits your ability so severely that you are unable to work.
You may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if you have a disability that prevents you from working, and you earned a certain amount prior to becoming disabled. In 2017, the qualifying amount is over $1,170 per month. If you are self employed, Social Security will use different criteria to gauge eligibility. A MA disability insurance lawyer can help you determine if you qualify.
SSI is available to individuals who have never been able to work, or have worked very little, due to their disability. Eligibility for this program is based on income – to qualify, your monthly income must not have exceed $735 (or $1,103 for couples). However, keep in mind that only some of your income will be considered when determining if you qualify.
What Benefits Are Available to Me if I Qualify?
Social Security Disability and SSI benefits both include monthly cash payments. Most individuals who qualify for Social Security Disability benefits receive between $700 and $1,700 monthly in cash payments. The amount for SSI is generally less. You may also receive backpay for both programs, based on the established date of onset of your condition. Although Social Security Disability does not provide immediate health insurance, after 24 months, you may be eligible for Medicare coverage. In certain cases, you may qualify for Medicare immediately. A Boston Social Security Disability attorney can help you determine if you qualify for health insurance coverage. SSI, on the other hand, usually includes immediate health insurance coverage under Medicaid. Both disability and SSI recipients are also usually eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as “food stamps.” Continue reading