Social Security Disability Programs
The two largest programs of the Federal government that provide financial assistance to people with disabilities are the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income. The former was introduced by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in 1956, while the latter was created in 1974.
SSDI pays benefits to totally disabled insured members, aged 65 or below (and to certain members of their families), assuming that these members meet the following requirements, which include:
- Having worked long enough (or recently enough) and have paid Social Security taxes or Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes while employed (these taxes are automatically deducted from the worker on a monthly basis)
- Having earned the number of credits required by the SSA (workers earn four credits annually)
- Suffering from totally disability (SSA expects that workers will receive assistance for short-term or partial disability from the Workers’ Compensation Insurance benefit or from their personal insurance providers).
Total disability or disability, as considered by the SSA, means: (i) inability to perform previous work, as well as any other work, due to the medical condition; (ii) the disability has either lasted for a year or is likely to last for a year or more; and, (iii) the disability can result in the worker’s death.
SSA has drawn up a list medical conditions that are severe enough, so that finding one’s health problem in it would automatically include him/her in the roster of disabled insured SS members. Not finding one’s health condition in the list, however, will require an evaluation by Social Security, to determine if the problem is serious enough to be considered a disability.
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability program, as different from SSDI, provides non-taxable financial assistance to Americans, who are, at least, 65 years old , blind, or disabled (the meaning assigned to “disability” is the same with SSDI), and whose income or resources fall within the federal benefit rate (FBR) determined by the government.
SSI funding is sourced from the U.S. Treasury general funds (not from the SS taxes paid monthly by SS insured members), thus, neither SS credits nor previous employment is required from applicants to the program.
The main intent of the SSI program is to help provide for the basic needs (food, shelter and clothing) of its beneficiaries. In some states SSI benefits application is also considered as application for food stamps, while other states allow the benefits to be supplemented by Medicaid to cover prescriptions, doctor’s fee and other medical care costs.
Many individuals, despite meeting the conditions required by Social Security Administration to qualify either for the SSDI or SSI benefit, have been denied of their application greatly because they chose to go through the whole process on their own. The forms that need to be filled out, the medical proofs, all other necessary documents and the strictness imposed by Social Security in deciding the worthiness of each application, can all be very difficult to take care of without the assistance of a legal professional. An Indiana Social Security disability lawyer is a person to approach to help a benefits applicant get approval for the financial assistance he or she needs.