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Getting Government Payments for Children With Disabilities

April 14, 2015

Parents who have children with disabilities face a myriad of legal, medical, and financial issues.  There are a host of government programs which can provide assistance in a variety of forms including housing and medical coverage.  Two programs, Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and Supplemental Social Security Income(SSI), provide cash.

In order to obtain the proper benefits, applicants need to understand three core differences between the programs:

  1. SSDI is an insurance-based program whereas SSI is means-tested.

Two criteria need to be met in order to obtain eligibility in either program.  For both programs, one criteria is that an applicant must demonstrate that he or she is classified as disabled by the Social Security Administration (SSA). To do so, among several factors, it must be shown that an applicant’s impairment renders him or her unable to work at a job in which he or she can earn $1,070 or more per month. (This figure, set in 2014, is adjusted periodically by the SSA).

The second criteria is different for each program.  To attain SSDI, the applicant must have worked for ten(10) years.  If he or she has done so, eligibility should be granted regardless of any other factor.

For SSI, though, the work history is irrelevant.  SSI is designed to meet the needs of the elderly and blind, as well as disabled, to insure that they can pay for food and shelter.  To be eligible, one’s income has to be meager, if non-existent, and resources (i.e. liquid assets) cannot exceed a small amount (typically $2,000).

  1. Each program provides different access to healthcare.

If an individual receives SSDI, he or she is generally eligible for Medicare after two years. Medicare is a federal health insurance program that covers routine hospital services and most but not all primary care.

If a person receives SSI, he or she typically qualifies for Medicaid benefits immediately. Unlike Medicare, Medicaid usually pays for all primary care for its recipients.

  1. The amount of cash benefits can vary.

The SSDI payment is based on the earning record of the recipient. The SSI payment is a flat $733.00 per month (augmented by a small supplement by most states).

In short, it is possible to receive both SSDI and SSI.  If an individual’s SSDI payment is less than the SSI amount, SSI will supplement the difference.  So, for example, if a recipient gets SSDI in the amount of $533.00 per month, SSI will pay $200.00 per month to get the overall payment to $733.00.  On the other hand, if the SSDI payment is more than $733.00, that will be the only benefit received.

If you have any questions, please call us at 716-636-7600.