September 1, 2019

11 Types of Disability Benefits under the Social Security Act

You have a one-in-four chance of becoming disabled before reaching your retirement age – a sobering statistic. The Social Security Act provides benefits based on disability which is administered by The Social Security Administration (SSA) under two main programs, namely the Social Security disability insurance program (title II) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program (title XVI). The Act and SSA regulations define disability and who is eligible and when; as it differs from other federal programs and private insurance you should consult your social security benefits lawyers at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, PC, to assist with applications and appeals.

What Benefit Programs Are Available to The Disabled and Their Families?

The two largest federal programs that assist the disabled are the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs. Only people who meet the medical criteria for ‘disability’ as defined by the Act may qualify for benefits. Both are administered by the Social Security Administration but have some crucial differences:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (Title II) – pays benefits if you are “insured,” based on whether you have contributed to the Social Security Trust Fund via payment of Social Security Taxes on earnings, for a specified period of work. Certain disabled dependents of insured workers may qualify too.
  • Supplemental Security Income (Title XVI) – pays benefits based on financial need. People and children under the age of 18 with limited income or resources may qualify.

The two types should not be confused even though they sound similar. There are several other programs related to the two main programs, that fall under the Act and are administered by the Social Security Administration.

The SSA provides a Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool that provides a list of benefits you may be eligible for. There are documentation requirements and examinations for all applications, and an experienced social security lawyer at our law firm can assist you with application and appeals processes.

1. Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits

The Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) require payroll deductions to cover the cost of Social Security benefits such as retirement, spousal, and survivors’ benefits. The Disability Insurance Trust Fund draws from these contributions to pay for disability benefits. It is partially federally funded and administered by the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA). The self-employed contribute according to the Self-Employed Contributions Act (SECA).

Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI or SSD) is an insurance-based program and benefits are dependent on your contribution, years of work, type of work, age, medical condition and time of requesting payments. It is also referred to as “Workers’ Disability.”

They may pay benefits to some of your family members.

Thus, Social Security Disability Insurance pays monthly benefits to you if you become disabled before you reach retirement age and aren’t able to work for at least 12 months or the disability is expected to end in death.

To qualify for this benefit program, you must:

  • Be unable to work due to a medical condition – expected to last at least one year or result in death.
  • Not have a short-term or partial disability
  • meet the SSA’s definition of disability – severe, long-term, total disability.
    • Severe: your condition must be severe enough to interfere with work-related and prevent you from performing ‘substantial gainful activity’ (SGA). If you are working and making over a certain amount ($1,220 per month in 2019 for disabled applicants, $2,040 for blind applicants) you will not qualify based on being able to perform SGA or not being ‘disabled enough’ to qualify.
    • Long-term: means has lasted a year or is expected to last more than a year. Special medical examinations and follow-up will be required.
  • Have worked a specified length of time in jobs covered by Social Security – in general, 40 credits earned, 20 of those in the last ten years ending in the year that you became disabled.
  • Be younger than your full retirement age (FRA).

Based on the work history of the disabled worker, some family members may be eligible to receive benefits.

The “Adult Listing of Impairments” page on the Social Security website can help guide you on your disability, and even if your condition is not included, you may still qualify. Use an experienced social security lawyer at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C to help you with your application.

You can apply for benefits via the online application if you are 18 or older, not blind, not receiving benefits on your own SS records, meet the criteria, and have not been denied.

2. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) pays disability benefits to those with financial need, regardless of their work history. It is a federally funded program administered by the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA). SSI provides desperately needed financial assistance to disabled adults and children who have limited income and assets.

To qualify, you must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Be at least age 65 or be blind or disabled
  • Have limited resources and income
  • Be a US citizen or a national (or an alien who meets specific requirements)
  • Reside in one of the 50 States, District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands
  • Residency requirement waived for:
    • certain students temporarily abroad
    • a child of military parent(s) assigned to permanent duty anywhere outside the US

Other factors that may affect your eligibility:

  • marital status
  • monthly income from work
  • bank balance

You are eligible to file online for SSI if you are between the ages of 18 and 65, have never been married, aren’t blind, are a US citizen, haven’t applied for or received SSI benefits in the past, and are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance at the same time as your SSI claim. You can also visit the Social Security Office.

3. Social Security Disabled Widow(er)’s Insurance Benefits

The Social Security Disabled Widow(er)’s Insurance Benefits are paid to the disabled widow or widower of a deceased worker who had earned enough Social Security credits. It is a federally funded program administered by the US Social Security Administration (SSA).

To qualify for this benefit program, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Between the ages of 50-60
  • Been married to the deceased spouse for more than nine months immediately prior to death
  • Be unmarried, unless the marriage can be disregarded
  • Not be entitled, based on your own work, to an equal or higher Social Security retirement benefit

4. Social Security Disabled Surviving Divorced Spouse Benefits

The Social Security Disabled Surviving Divorced Spouse Benefits are another federally funded program, also administered by the US Social Security Administration (SSA). It pays benefits to the disabled surviving divorced spouse of a worker who had earned enough Social Security credits.

To qualify, you must be divorced from a deceased spouse and be:

  • Between 50 and 60
  • Been married at least ten years before the final date of the divorce
  • Meet the disability-related requirements
  • Be unmarried, unless the marriage can be disregarded
  • Not be entitled, based on your own work, to an equal or higher Social Security retirement benefit

5. Social Security Parent’s Insurance Benefits

The Social Security Parent’s Benefits are managed by the US Social Security Administration (SSA) and a federally funded program. It pays benefits to the dependent parent of a deceased worker who had earned enough Social Security credits.

To qualify, you are:

  • 62 years or older
  • Not married after the deceased worker’s death (unless an exception applies)
  • Received at least one-half of your support from the deceased worker at certain points in time
  • Be the parent and therefore would be eligible to share in the intestate personal property of the worker (get a lawyer to assist with this determination)
  • Legally adopted the insured worker before he or she turned 16
  • Became the deceased’s stepparent by marriage entered into before the deceased turned 16
  • Not be entitled to retirement insurance benefit equal to or exceeding the amount of the parent’s original benefit
  • Filed proof of support within the required time limits

6. Social Security Child’s Insurance Benefits

Social Security Child’s Insurance Benefits are federally funded. These benefits are administered by the US Social Security Administration (SSA) for children whose parent(s) have worked and earned the required credits, are entitled to SS retirement and disability benefits or deceased. Therefore, when a parent becomes disabled or dies, Social Security benefits are applied to stabilize the family financially.

To qualify for this benefit, a child must be:

  • Younger than age 18
  • 18-19 years old and a full-time student (no higher than grade 12)
  • 18 or older with a disability that began before age 22
  • The biological child, or under certain circumstances, a stepchild, grandchild, step-grandchild, or adopted child may also qualify for Child’s Insurance Benefits
  • Unmarried
  • Dependent on the parent

7. Social Security Mother’s or Father’s Insurance Benefits

The Social Security Mother’s or Father’s Insurance Benefit is a federally funded program managed by the US Social Security Administration (SSA). These are benefits paid to the surviving spouse or surviving divorced spouse of an insured worker.

To qualify, you must:

  • Have the deceased’s child who is under age 16 or disabled and entitled to child’s insurance benefits in your care
  • For a surviving divorced mother or father, the child must be their natural or legally adopted child
  • Not be entitled to a higher Social Security retirement benefit on your own record
  • Not be entitled to a widow’s or widower’s benefit
  • Meet the marriage duration requirement
  • Be finally divorced from the deceased worker (Surviving Divorced Spouse Only)
  • Be unmarried

8. Social Security Lump Sum Death Payment

The Social Security Lump Sum Death Payment (LSDP) Benefits are a federally funded program managed by the US Social Security Administration (SSA). A surviving spouse or child may receive a special lump-sum death payment of $255 if they meet certain requirements.

To qualify for this benefit, the surviving spouse must:

  • Be living in the same household at the time of death
  • If living apart (in the month prior to death):
    • was already receiving benefits on the worker’s record
    • became eligible for benefits upon the worker’s death

The worker’s child(ren) are eligible if no surviving spouse, and during the month the worker died, the child:

  • Was already receiving benefits on the worker’s record
  • Became eligible for benefits upon the worker’s death

9. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Benefits for Adults Disabled Since Childhood

This SSDI program, administered by the SSA, pays benefits to adults whose disability began before their 22nd birthday. It is paid on the parent’s SS record and is therefore considered a child’s benefit.

To be eligible, one of the parents:

  • Must be receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits
  • Must have died and have earned enough credits

A minor child receiving benefits on the parent’s SS record may be eligible to continue when they turn 18 and will be evaluated on the adult disability rules.

A subsequent marriage may affect the benefits.

10. SSI for Children

Children younger than age 18 with disabilities, or adults over 22 that were disabled in childhood, may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments.

SSI assists people with limited resources and low income if they are blind, disabled, or over 65 with monthly payments. If your child meets the SS definition of disability for children and the income criteria, they may be eligible. Payments differ from state to state, depending on how much the state contributes to the federal payment.

To be considered disabled, the child must meet the following criteria:

  • Disabling medical condition expected to last more than a year or result in death, and must seriously limit the child’s functional activities
  • If the child is working and not blind, earnings may not exceed $1,220 a month in 2019, or if blind not more than $2,040

11. Social Security Disability for Wounded Warriors

Disability claims for Military service members can receive expedited processing. Benefits from SS require a separate application as it is different from those available through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

It applies to all active military duty service members on or after October 1, 2001, regardless of where the disability occurs.

Both the Social Security Disability Insurance program (insurance for you or certain family members) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI), based on financial need, can expedite benefits for eligible members.

Your Right to Representation

You are entitled to have a representative, such as an experienced social security attorney or non-attorney, help you when you do business with Social Security. You are both responsible for providing accurate information, or you may face criminal prosecution.

  • Supporting you in interviews, hearings or conferences
  • Obtaining information from your Social Security file
  • Assisting you in obtaining medical records or information to support your claim
  • Questioning witnesses
  • Witness preparation for a hearing
  • Requesting a reconsideration, hearing, or Appeals Council review

If you or a family member are disabled and you need assistance with a Social Security application, claim or appeal in Michigan, contact Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. for a no obligation consultation at 1-866-MICH-LAW (1-866-642-4529). Our legal team will help you fight for the compensation you deserve!

Nikole has a special interest in medico-legal issues and holds post-basic degrees in medical law and business. She has developed quality improvement and safety plans for many practices and facilities to prevent medico-legal issues and teaches several courses on data protection and privacy, legal, medical examinations and documentation, and professional ethics. She has been writing professionally on legal, business, ethics, patient advocacy, research and medico-legal issues in articles, white papers, business plans, and training courses for over thirty-five years.

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