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Should you apply for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income?

| Sep 19, 2014 | Social Security |

When people in Illinois become disabled through illness or through an injury, they often find themselves facing several challenges. A severe disability prevents people from working and financially supporting themselves. However, if they meet the qualifications, people may be able to receive benefit payments through the Social Security Administration’s disability programs.

The SSA has two programs that are designed to provide assistance to people who suffer with a disability. These programs are Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income, and it is important for people to understand the differences between these programs to make sure they apply for the right program.

Social Security Disability

The SSD program is designed for people who have an established work history through Social Security. To be eligible, applicants must show that they have the set number of work credits deemed by SSA for their age. The credits are capped at four a year, which would represent earnings of $4,640 or higher. A single credit is issued to people who earn about $1,160. When people apply for SSD, also referred to as Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, the SSA establishes eligibility through two tests. One of these is the duration of work test and SSA staff uses the following rules for applicants:

  • For applicants who are disabled between age 21 and 24, they will have had to earn six credits and have a history of employment for 1.5 years.
  • For applicants who become disabled between the age of 24 and 31, they are required to have worked 1.5 to 4.5 years and earn between six and 18 credits.
  • For applicants who become disabled between age 31 and 42, they must have 20 work credits and a history of employment for five years.
  • Applicants between the ages of 44 to 52 who become disabled must have worked between 5.5 to 7.5 years and earned 22 to 30 credits.

For older applicants under the age of 65, the work credits can extend up to 40 and the years of work history are capped up to 10 years. In addition to the duration test, the SSA also administers a recent work test to look at work history in the years leading up to the disability.

Social Security Disability Insurance

SSDI is designed for people who do not meet the employment requirements listed in the previous section. Eligibility for this program is not work-history based but economically based. This program assists disabled Americans who have few assets and a small income. For example, people must show that their assets are valued at no higher than $2,000. Generally, when people are unable to qualify for SSD, they can apply for SSDI.  However, the application process is a stringent one so people should discuss their situation with an experienced SSD attorney.