Florida residents who have become too ill or too injured to work should not panic. The federal government operates two programs to help disabled Americans cover their living expenses. The programs aren’t generous, but they do provide a financial cushion for people who are unable to earn their way.
Congress has assigned the U.S. Social Security Administration to be in charge of making sure people who apply for disability benefits are truly unable to work. Both programs follow the exact same set of rules for determining who is disabled. Other than that, the programs are very different in purpose:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is an insurance system that only provides benefits for people who have paid into the system. Those payments are made automatically by payroll deduction from anyone who pays Social Security taxes. A person who has worked a sufficient number of years (including recent years) has earned his SSDI benefits and should apply for those benefits if he becomes disabled.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a welfare program for the poor. You do not need a strong work history to collect SSI benefits—and most people who depend on SSI have not been regularly employed. Supplemental Security Income provides only a very low level of financial support.
How Your Benefits Are Calculated
The Social Security Administration uses a specific formula to calculate the monthly benefits to be sent to every SSDI and SSI recipient.
Just as with Social Security Retirement benefits, the payment rate for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits is calculated based on your lifetime earnings. Even the first job you had after you graduated from school helps you qualify for SSDI benefits and adds to your overall payments every month. There is no cap on how much other income you can receive while collecting SSDI, but if you have more than a token amount of income from work (the precise limit varies each year), you will no longer be considered disabled and your benefits will be terminated.
For Supplemental Security Income, the payment rate is set every year by Congress. You cannot collect SSI if you have substantial income from any other source; SSI is only for the very poorest disabled people, who have no other resources.
Getting the Money You Deserve
Some individuals in Daytona qualify for both Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income. It’s not usually possible to collect from both sources, and usually the monthly SSDI payments are higher, so most people with dual qualifications will choose SSDI.
If you are disabled and living in Volusia County or any nearby community, you should realize that, unfortunately, the SSDI application process is not very quick. Once you fill out your forms, it can take months before you hear whether your claim is approved—and most applications are rejected the first time.
Having a disability that prevents you from working can make life tough. You may find relief making ends meet with the help of Daytona Social Security insurance. The lawyers of Johnson and Gilbert can answer your questions about Social Security. Give us a call at 800.556.8890 and “like” us on Facebook to receive updates.