Are you unable to work because of a disability in New York or Pennsylvania? If so, you may be entitled to monthly cash benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA offers two different monthly cash benefit programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). These programs both offer cash benefits, but the eligibility requirements are entirely different. Understanding which benefits programs you need to apply for can be confusing. The best thing you can do is speak with a Social Security lawyer who will review your financial situation and disability or medical condition and advise you of the best path forward for obtaining benefits. We will explain some of the key differences between applying for SSDI and SSI in New York and Pennsylvania. 

Social Security Disability Insurance Eligibility

SSI and SSDI benefits are both federal programs that offer disabled individuals who are unable to work benefits to help pay for food and housing. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD) provides monthly cash benefits for disabled individuals who cannot work and have enough past work credits. Work credits refer to the amount that the applicant has paid into the social security system through their payroll deductions. 

The more an applicant has worked and paid to the Social Security Administration via his or her paychecks, the more work credits the applicant will have. The older the applicant, the more work credits he or she must have obtained. An adult child or spouse can utilize a parent’s or spouse’s work credits to qualify in some cases. In most cases, an applicant must have paid into the Social Security Administration for at least 10 years to have enough work credits to qualify. Unlike the Supplemental Security Income program, SSDI benefits are not means-tested. In other words, you will not have to prove that your assets and monthly income are lower than a certain amount to qualify for SSDI benefits as you do with SSI benefits.


Qualifying for Supplemental Security Income

SSI benefits are means-tested, and only those applicants with very few assets and a limited monthly income will qualify. The SSA only Awards SSI benefits to those who are disabled, over the age of 65, and blind. They will also accept children with qualifying medical conditions who are under the age of 18. Many applicants do not qualify because their income and resource levels are too high. Currently, applicants must prove that their income level is below the threshold of $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a married couple. A person’s primary residence is not included when the SSA calculates and applicants resources and income level.

SSI benefits begin right away, and successful applicants can receive their monthly benefits in the First full month after they file their application or the date they were found eligible for benefits, if that date is later. On the contrary, SSDI benefits do not begin until an individual is in his or her sixth full month of disability. This six-month time starts in the first full month after the SSA decides that someone’s disability began. 


SSDI Benefits are Higher Than SSI Benefits

Many of our clients seek SSDI benefits because they are almost always higher than SSI benefits, based on the federal benefits rate. SSI benefits increase in 2020, and individuals are currently entitled to $783 per month. Couples are entitled to $1,175 per month. Some states provide additional income on top of the federal benefits rate. These amounts vary based on the applicants living arrangements, income, and other factors. 

SSDI benefits are typically around $1,258 per month. The Social Security Administration wishes for disabled individuals to work if they can. They allow a certain amount of income each month, called substantial gainful activity, before the Social Security Administration will declare the recipient ineligible for benefits. Non-blind workers can earn $15,120 a year. Blind workers can earn up to $25,320 per year without losing eligibility. For this reason, if you are able to work part-time or on a limited basis, you can earn more income overall by qualifying for SSDI benefits.


SSDI Beneficiaries Often Qualify for Additional Benefits

Many applicants who successfully obtained SSDI benefits also qualify for other types of public benefits, such as health insurance program benefits. In many cases, SSDI beneficiaries will also become eligible for publicly funded health care in the form of Medicare two years after they start receiving SSDI benefits. Medicare is a federal program that provides vulnerable individuals with primary medical care and medical coverage for hospitals’ routine services. 

On the other hand, applicants who qualify for SSI benefits will automatically be eligible for Medicaid benefits. Medicaid is a separate program from Medicare. Medicaid benefits provide comprehensive medical coverage, including coverage for long-term nursing home care when the individual requires it. Medicaid is a state and federal healthcare program that is jointly run to provide complete medical coverage. Many people who obtain Medicare benefits need to purchase supplemental coverage because Medicare does not cover all of their medical expenses, unlike Medicaid.


Contact a New York SSDI Lawyer Today

If you or your loved one are disabled and unable to work, it is worth looking into whether you qualify for social security benefits. An experienced Social Security lawyer can advise you on your eligibility for each type of benefit. In some cases, applicants can receive both types of benefits at once. The best thing you can do is to speak to an attorney about your case. If you are eligible, the experienced lawyers at Stanley Law Offices will help you submit a thorough and accurate application. If your application is denied, we will appeal your claim for you and advocate for your rights along the way. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation and learn how we can help you.