Do you file for Social Security Disability or SSI?
The best way to answer this question is to say that when you go to a social security office to file for disability, it will be simply that. You will be interviewed for a disability application and the program that the claim is taken in (Social Security Disability or SSI disability) will be determined by the social security office.
How does social security determine which disability program you are eligible to receive benefits in? When you initially contact SSA, your social security number will be used to ascertain whether or not you have insured status for title II benefits. Title II benefits are Social Security Disability benefits and you become eligible for them via having earned sufficient work credits, which are earned through work activity.
The number of work credits a person needs to be insured for title II benefits may vary depending on their age. Younger individuals will need fewer credits which makes sense; otherwise, a disabled twenty-two year old who has not been in the labor market long would never be able to qualify for disability benefits under title II.
A person can contact SSA regarding their work credits and insured status; however, this is really unnecessary since the disability program you are eligible to have a claim taken in will be determined for you when you contact SSA.
Individuals who do not have insured status for title II, or Social Security Disability, can potentially have a disability application taken in SSI. SSI disability is designed to provide benefits who are too young to have earned enough work credits for SSD (such as children), individuals who have never worked (perhaps because they were a stay-at-home spouse or parent or caretaker), and individuals who were previously insured for title II benefits but, because they have not worked in a long time (possibly due to being out of the workforce for an extended period due to a disabling condition) have now lost their insured status and coverage for title II.
Can you file for both Social Security Disability and SSI?
Yes, and it happens routinely all the time. Though, when it does many claimants may not necessarily realize that they are having their claim taken in both programs.
Claims taken in both programs are known as concurrent claims and they are taken when a person is insured for title II Social Security Disability benefits, but would only receive a fairly small monthly disability benefit. In those cases, the social security administration may allow the claimant to file for SSI concurrently.
The reasoning for this is that it may significantly increase the monthly benefit amount received by the claimant, assuming they are approved. In such cases, however, the total benefit they would receive each month would not exceed whatever is currently the maximum monthly SSI benefit.
Note: SSI is a program based on need and, specifically, this means that you cannot have more than two thousand dollars in countable assets (three thousand if you are married). Therefore, a concurrent claim cannot be taken when your total countable assets exceed the allowable limit.
About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
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