Being disabled and unable to work can be a frightening situation as you face mounting medical bills and wonder how you are going to support yourself and your family. There is, however, a solution for the long-term disabled. The Social Security Administration provides benefits to those who have suffered a long-term disabling medical condition. If your condition has lasted for a year, will last a year or is likely to end in death, then you may be eligible for long-term benefits.
Long-term disability benefits are available through the Social Security Administration through one of two programs: supplemental security income (SSI) or social security disability insurance (SSDI). The key difference between the two programs is that SSI is an income- and means-based program for people with few resources and low monthly incomes while SSDI is a form of insurance that workers gain eligibility for by earning work credits.
Both SSDI and SSI have the same definition of disabled. To qualify for benefits, your condition must be severe and impairing and must prevent you from doing your job. The SSA has a Blue Book/Listing of Impairments outlining conditions that can usually make you eligible for benefits as long as you have required symptoms that the SSA defines for your condition. Other medical problems or impairments that are equally as severe as those listed can also make you eligible for benefits.
What Types of Benefits Can You Receive?
If you are eligible for SSI benefits, then you may receive a maximum of $710 per month, which is reduced if you earn income. If there are two members of a couple who are eligible for SSI benefits, then the monthly maximum income is $1,066. If there is a caregiver living in the home that provides essential assistance, then this "essential person" can receive $356 per month from SSI. These monthly maximums are subject to periodic cost of living adjustments (COLA) and the most up-to-date benefit information can be found on the website of the Social Security Administration.
SSDI, unlike SSI, is not based on having limited income but is instead based on your work history. In addition to earning eligibility for SSDI when you work and pay into social security, your SSDI benefit amount is also based on what you have earned. This means that each person's monthly benefit through SSDI is going to be based upon how much that person has earned and how long he worked.
For most people receiving SSDI, benefits can range from $300 to $2,200 monthly. The average amount of monthly benefits paid out to SSDI recipients is $1,132 as of 2013. The maximum available benefit available to someone who has worked and paid in the maximum is $2,533 as of 2013.
Other Long-Term Benefits
When you are eligible for SSI or SSDI, you may also be able to obtain other benefits in addition to your monthly income. Vocational training, for example, may be possible under certain circumstances. The most important additional benefit, however, is health insurance.
Those approved for SSI benefits can normally qualify for Medicaid benefits within their state. While Medicaid is a state-run program and SSI benefits are administered at the federal level, qualifying for SSI usually is sufficient to become eligible for Medicaid as well. Medicaid is government insurance for people with limited income and few resources who have no other source of healthcare coverage.
Those receiving SSDI, on the other hand, will become eligible for Medicare as opposed to Medicaid. Medicare is the insurance program best known for providing coverage for the elderly. SSDI recipients can become eligible for Medicare benefits after a 24 month waiting period.
How Long Can Your Benefits Continue?
When you are receiving long-term disability benefits through SSDI, these benefits can normally continue until the time of your retirement. Once you reach retirement age, you will then be eligible to collect social security benefits for the elderly.
SSDI benefits can continue on an ongoing or long-term basis provided you remain within the SSA's definition of "disabled." Periodic review may be necessary in order to ensure that you are still qualified as disabled. Working can also result in you being disqualified for benefits, but only after a trial work period and extended eligibility period has ended and only if you earn above a certain income.