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If You're Disabled, is Social Security an Option for You?

The general belief regarding disability benefits is: if you're disabled, you can receive benefits. If only the system was that easy and uncomplicated, but it isn't. And, if it was, we wouldn't be here writing about it today! We've mentioned before how difficult and complex the system may be. That being said, even those who would qualify for disability based solely on their impairments, may not actually qualify for benefits in the long run.

Last month, we discussed the five-step process that one must be vetted through in order to be determined eligible for disability benefits. We're not about to say that the five-step process is the only criteria for qualifying for disability, because it isn't. A recent post on our Facebook page got us thinking. If you feel as if you meet the steps to qualify for disability, are there other issues standing in your way to receiving benefits? The simplest answer is: Yes.

As you may know, there are two different types of disability one can collect-Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplement Security Income (SSI) benefits. SSD pays monthly cash benefits to people who have paid enough FICA taxes to qualify, and are now unable to work for a year or more because of a disability. Conversely, SSI is a governmental program that pays monthly cash benefits to people who are age 65 or older, those who are blind or those who have a disability and who do not own much or have a lot of income.

If you've worked most of your life and have paid your FICA tax, generally you're going to be eligible for SSD. Specifically, you must have worked ten years in your lifetime and five years out of the last ten at the time you became disabled for SSD eligibility. Unfortunately, if you do not fit the above-noted criteria, there is a chance that you may not qualify for SSD. SSI is available to certain people, like disabled adults and children who have limited income or resources. To qualify for SSI benefits, you must meet certain eligibility requirements, which can be confusing and may vary state by state.

There is, however, a slight chance that-due to individual, family or household circumstance-one may not be eligible for either SSD or SSI. Often times an individual will find out that their household income places them outside of the criteria for SSI. At the same time, they suffer from a disability that does not allow them to return to work, but they cannot qualify for SSD as they have not worked at least five years out of the last ten in order to be eligible. It's an unfortunate and frustrating situation to be in, and the Social Security Administration's regulations are not able to be adjusted.

2 Comments

I am in such a bad spot. Im disabled but working and its getting more and more difficult to endure the pain. Should I quit my job in order to get disability? I barely make it paycheck to paycheck so its hard to save any money to live on while I do. I have been working at the same place for 9 years and before that somewhere for 2 years so I would qualify. Should I work less hours? I work 32 now. Thanks, Cathy

Unfortunately, Cathy, we really cannot advise you on your work situation. We do understand how difficult of a decision it must be for you. Please know that you are not alone, though. Many of our clients have found themselves in your position--a worsening disability while working, but an inability to quit due to financial constraints. We would be more than happy to provide you with the information you would need if you're looking into filing for Social Security Disability, though. Please feel free to give us a call or contact us online--if we are able to help, we'd be more than happy to! You can reach us at 1-800-66-BINDER or contact us online for a free initial consultation.
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