There are two different types of Social Security benefits: Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB” or “Title II”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI” or “Title XVI”). If you are interested in either, the first step is to go to your local Social Security office to apply or apply online at ssa.gov. Since you are already applying for disability, make sure you apply for both types at the same time. Regardless, to have a potentially-successful disability claim, you must have a physical or mental disability (or a combination of the two) that prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity (that is, working) and you are getting treatment for your disabilities, but you are still unable to work.
DIB focuses on work credits–how much you have worked in your lifetime before your disability prevented you from working. SSI focuses on your income and assets and whether your disability prevents you from working.For DIB purposes, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) looks at your work credits. Work credits are how the SSA determines if you have worked enough and paid enough money into the SSA through your paychecks. To qualify for DIB, you must have earned 20 work credits of your most-recently-available 40 work credits. You can earn 4 work credits each year. So, if you have worked full-time 5 out of the last 10 years, you are likely work-credit-eligible for DIB. Please keep in mind that these quarterly credits are maintained and calculated exclusively by the SSA. Also, it is very important to remember that these credits expire. When you think you can no longer work, go ahead and immediately apply for DIB–use it or lose it.For SSI purposes, you must have a low level of income and assets. SSI benefits are paid by general tax revenues and not any amount you have paid into the SSA. The SSA uses different equations to determine if you are eligible for SSI benefits. In general, the SSA may find you are eligible for SSI if you have only one car; one residence; some clothes and appliances in that residence; and no more than $2,000 in additional assets (including the total amounts of any savings accounts, checking accounts, stock market investments, cash hidden under your mattress, etc.). This applies to the household you live in. So, if your spouse earns a healthy living, you may not qualify SSI.No matter what, both types of disability benefits depend entirely on whether objective medical data (your medical records) proves that you are disabled.Contact Edwards & Kautz, PLLC to learn more.