Which Social Security Programs Pay Disability Benefits?

Social Security Solutions, LLCThe Social Security Administration (SSA) administers two programs that pay disability benefits:

  1. Social Security Disability (SSD) and
  2. Supplemental Security Income Disability (SSI)

SSD is based on your earnings from a job or self-employment. SSI is a needs-based program with income and resource limits. Both programs use the same disability definition: You must have a physical or mental condition that is expected to last at least 12 months or end in death. Both programs have complicated rules and limits if you return to work.

Disability medical decisions are made by an agency of the state where you live, not Social Security. An adjudicator from this agency reviews your medical records and decides if you meet the SSA “disability” definition. Several factors are considered to decide if you are disabled: age, education, work experience, and the severity of the medical condition(s). Some conditions are automatic approvals, like ALS, some advanced cancers, or other terminal diseases. Other conditions, like heart conditions and stroke, require more time and information. If you are denied Social Security, you have appeal rights.

There is a five-month waiting period after your disability onset month before SSD benefits are paid. The benefit amount is based on your work record. It takes an average of four to five months to process a disability claim.

There is no waiting period for SSI and the maximum SSI benefit for 2019 is $771/month and depends on other income available to you. SSI is not payable if you have over $2000 in liquid resources (individual) or $3000 (couple). Many children with physical or mental impairments can receive SSI. A parent’s income is no longer considered for children over age 18 living with them.

For more information please contact me.

About Dennis Heywood

Denny’s career with Social Security provides an in-depth, working knowledge of the Social Security Administration’s internal organization and processes. An expert in all phases of SSA programs: retirement, survivor, disability, and Medicare, Denny has expertise with the complex Social Security regulations based on more than 40 years of experience.


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