Back to the Basics: An Introduction to Federal Disability Benefits

Most have heard of the words “disability benefits.” But did you known that there are different types of benefits available, depending on the specific circumstances of the individual? This will be the first in a series of posts intended to familiarize the reader with the different types of disability benefits offered by the federal government. This post will briefly go over who can get disability benefits and the two different kinds of benefits for disabled workers.
Who Can Get Disability Benefits?
The government offers disability benefits to two basic groups of people, disabled workers and those who rely on a disabled worker for support. Both the spouse and the children of a disabled worker can be eligible for disability benefits under certain circumstances. Not all spouses will qualify, however. To qualify, a spouse must either be over the age of 62 or be responsible for the care of a child, 16 years old or younger. Children 18 years and younger (19 if the child is enrolled in high school) are eligible. Adult disabled children under the age of 22 can also qualify as a child.

The Two Types of Disability Benefits: SSD and SSI
There are two types of benefits for disabled workers, Social Security Disability (SSD benefits) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI benefits). SSD benefits are available to workers who contributed to the Social Security program throughout the course of their career. SSD benefits are calculated based on the amount the worker contributed during their lifetime, and only last for as long as the worker is “insured.” The exact formula to determine how long a worker is insured is complex, but generally speaking, the longer a worker has contributed to Social Security, the longer that worker will be eligible to receive SSD benefits.
Those workers who remain disabled after their insured status runs its course, as well as those who did not pay into Social Security in the first place, may still be eligible for SSI benefits. In order to be eligible for SSI benefits, a worker must have limited income and resources and be a United States citizen currently living in the United States. SSI benefits are calculated based on need, and vary in amount up to the federal maximum, which in 2013 is $710 for an individual or $1066 for a couple. Most states also offer a supplement in addition to this amount. Unlike SSD benefits, SSI benefits are ongoing and are available for as long as the worker is disabled.
If you or a loved one suffer from a disability that prevents you from remaining in the workforce, and you think you might qualify for disability benefits, give me a call. I have been representing the disabled for over 30 years and can help you navigate what can often be a confusing and intimidating process. The fact is that most disability applications are denied on their first submission. Increase your chances of approval by having someone with experience on your side.
See Related Blog Posts:
Disability for Minor Children Under the Age of Eighteen
Availability of Disability Benefits for Mental Health Concerns

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