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What Disability Benefits Are Available?

The social safety net in the United States protects those who cannot work due to age, injury or illness. For some people the benefits provided by the state and federal governments can make the difference between an adequate apartment and living on the streets. While nearly 200,000 Arkansans currently collect Social Security payments, many other people are not aware of the benefits provided by state and federal disability programs. It is essential that people educate themselves regarding these programs because the Social Security Administration estimates that a 20-year-old individual has a 25% chance of becoming disabled before they reach the full retirement age.

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Social Security Disability Insurance

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD or SSDI) is only available to “insured” workers. An insured worker is a worker who has worked long enough and paid enough in Social Security taxes to accumulate sufficient credits to qualify. The program makes cash payments to individuals who are unable to work due to a medical condition that is expected to last, at minimum, one year or is expected to result in death.

To qualify for SSD benefits you must have not only a sufficient duration of your work, but also recent work. What qualifies on recent work is dependent upon when you became disabled. While an experienced SSD attorney can address your particular situation, an example of acceptable recent work for a worker who becomes disabled before age 24 would require 1.5 years of work during a three-year period ending with the quarter you became disabled.

If you meet these initial requirements, the Social Security Administration will analyze your claim utilizing a 5-step process. The steps in this determination process include:

  1.  Are you working or otherwise engaged in substantial gainful activity greater than the program limits?
  2. Is your impairment severe?
  3. Is your condition a listed condition? If not does it medically or functionally equal to a listed condition?
  4. Are you able to perform the work that you did previously?
  5. Are you able to do other types of work?

Receiving SSD benefits is not an easy or necessarily straight-forward process. In fact, many applications require at least one level of appeal. An experienced SSD attorney can avoid common legal and procedural pitfalls thereby improving your likelihood of a favorable determination.

Supplemental Security Income

Unlike the SSD program, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is not designed to be a workers’ insurance program. Rather the program provides cash payments to those with low incomes who are blind, disabled, or age 65 or older. To determine if you qualify for the program the Social Security Administration the agency looks at your income and the things that you own. Because the Administration exempts certain types and amounts of income, an experienced attorney can improve your likelihood of a favorable determination by presenting your finances as favorably as the rules permit. For instance the SSA does not count:

  • The first $65 of income you earn by working and 50% of any earnings above $65
  • SNAP benefits
  • Home energy assistance
  • The home you live in
  • Burial funds

The base amount of SSI benefits is the same throughout all 50 states but many states supplement the amounts provided. Unfortunately Arkansas is not one of those states that further supplements SSI benefits but other assistance may be available.

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Other Assistance Programs

An experienced Social Security benefits attorney may also be able to assist you with other benefits programs such as SNAP or TANF. Further your attorney can answer your questions and explain any potential collateral consequences additional benefits income might bring.

To better understand the benefits Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income, contact Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law today. Call (479) 251-1843 today or contact us online. We offer confidential consultations in which an attorney can evaluate your SSI or SSD claim.