The Social Security Administration (SSA) pays both Social Security and disability to any qualifying recipients across the country. Disability is paid to people with serious injuries that prevent them from working, whereas traditional retirement benefits are available for most retirees with qualifying work histories. What happens if you apply for multiple benefits at the same time? To answer this question, we must look closely at the types of benefits the SSA offers and when you are eligible for each. Fayetteville AR disability lawyer Ken Kieklak explains.
What’s the Difference Between Social Security Disability and SSI?
To understand which benefits you should receive, we need to look at the programs the SSA offers and what types of benefits it pays. There are two main benefits that the SSA is responsible for: disability benefits and retirement benefits. Making matters more confusing, these are not the names of any programs the SSA operates. Instead, those benefits are actually paid through programs called SSDI and SSI.
Disability vs. Retirement Benefits from the SSA
Disability is available for people with serious injuries that make it impossible to work. These individuals can apply for disability benefits paid to them and their families. Disability is intended to last for the rest of your life, so most people on disability are effectively retired (but not by choice).
Retirement benefits help older Americans by providing them with income. These benefits come in different amounts depending on your age when you retire, and they typically last for the rest of your life.
SSDI vs. SSI
SSDI stands for “Social Security Disability Insurance,” and it is the primary disability program the SSA provides. To get these benefits, you must have a work history in the U.S., and you must have paid your Social Security taxes.
If you are disabled, but you do not have a work history, you might be able to apply for need-based disability instead. This is paid through SSI – “Supplemental Security Income.” This pays disabled individuals who have no other source of income or no work history to qualify for SSDI benefits.
This is where people are usually confused: the program that pays retirement benefits is also SSI. This same program pays benefits to retirees as well as disabled individuals with no other source of income. When you receive SSI for retirement benefits, you must have a sufficient work history and history of paying Social Security taxes to get benefits.
Can You Get SSI and SSDI at the Same Time?
Receiving multiple benefits from the Social Security Administration at the same time is known as receiving “concurrent benefits.” In many cases, you can be eligible to receive both SSI and SSDI at the same time due to a disability.
Disability Concurrent Benefits
One of the most common ways people receive both SSDI and SSI is when the receive SSI during waiting periods. To get SSDI, you must go through a 5-month waiting period before your benefits will start. During that time, you may have no income because of your disability, which means you could qualify for SSI. During that 5-month waiting period, you may be able to receive SSI benefits, which can continue after your SSDI benefits start.
SSI may continue while you receive SSDI benefits, but only if your income is below a certain level. Remember that SSI is need-based, meaning that it only pays you benefits if your income is too low. SSDI benefits qualify as “countable income” which goes toward calculating whether or not you meet the qualifications for SSI. If your SSDI benefits are high enough, you may no longer qualify for SSI.
In many cases, disability through SSDI can continue to pay benefits and allow you to work in some eligible positions. While working and receiving SSDI, your income will likely be too high to allow you to continue to receive SSI benefits – but you should talk to a lawyer to make sure. Any time you are considering working while on disability, you should speak with a lawyer to ensure you do not face disability benefit termination and that you follow the Social Security rules for reporting income.
Getting Retirement and Disability at the Same Time
If you have a qualifying injury or condition that makes it impossible to work, you have a choice between early retirement and disability. Many older adults whose health problems make it hard to work decide to retire early rather than seek disability. In most cases, this means getting reduced SSI payments because of early retirement. Talk to an attorney if you are deciding whether to retire early or seek disability because making the wrong decision can reduce your benefits.
If you seek disability, your SSDI benefits should equal what your SSI benefits would at full retirement age. If you are disabled but start drawing funds from retirement instead of disability benefits, you may be able to seek SSDI at the same time to make up the difference. However, this has complex legal requirements, and you should speak with an attorney before making any decisions.
Fayetteville Disability Lawyer Offering Free Consultations
If you are disabled and can no longer work, talk to an attorney about filing for disability. In some cases, you can receive concurrent benefits to get SSDI and SSI benefits at the same time, but this usually does not apply to retirement benefits. For help with your case, contact Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, to schedule a free legal consultation. Our number is (479) 316-0438.