Can I Get Both?

Some claimants only apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Others will apply solely for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). However, in some cases, claimants may qualify for both SSDI and SSI.

This is called a “concurrent claim.”

At Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers, our SSDI attorneys throughout Massachusetts know the best way to assist our clients in maximizing their claims. We can help identify if a client may qualify for both, and assist in the application process to ensure nothing important is overlooked.

The Social Security Administration reported that as of 2015, SSI payments were another source of income for 1 out of 8 recipients of SSDI.

Who Qualifies for Concurrent Benefits?

Usually, a person may collect concurrent benefits when a person with a prior work history is deemed disabled, but the approval for SSDI results in a low monthly payment.

SSDI payments are calculated based on the worker’s payroll contribution to the Social Security Trust Fund. So the more a person earns, the more he or she will have paid into the Social Security system, and so the higher the monthly SSDI payment. Calculations are made according to a “work credit” system, based largely off how much was paid into the system.

So a younger recipient with less work history is more likely to receive a lower SSDI payment than someone who becomes disabled after years of contributing taxes to the federal system.

In order to qualify for a concurrent benefit, a person has to be receiving less than the monthly maximum Federal Benefit Rate, which as of 2016 is $733 for an individual and $1,100 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse. (This figure is updated annually with Cost of Living Adjustments.)

That monthly amount is reduced by subtracting countable income, and spouses are allowed to divide the amount equally between themselves for purposes of determining eligibility for a concurrent claim. Also, some states – including Massachusetts – provide supplemental SSI benefits.

Claimants can receive both SSDI and SSI if their SSDI benefits are less than the Federal Benefit Rate.

How Concurrent Claims Are Paid

It’s important for folks to understand that when a person is approved for a concurrent claim, these benefits aren’t “stacked.” In other words, an individual can’t add the entire amount for which they qualify under each program and expect to receive the full sum. The SSI payment amount will be reduced by the amount of the SSDI payment in order to match the maximum SSI payment limit.

If a person’s monthly SSDI payments are in excess of the Federal Benefit Rate, he or she will be entitled to take home the full amount, but won’t be eligible for additional assistance under SSI.

How Other Benefits Affect SSDI

Although there are some types of benefits a person can receive that won’t impact the ultimate payout for SSDI, there are others that will.

Generally speaking:

  • Disability payments from private sources (private pensions, insurance benefits, etc.) won’t impact SSDI payments.
  • Payments from public sources (workers’ compensation, unemployment, etc.) will impact SSDI benefits. These can also include civil service disability benefits, state temporary disability benefits or state and local government retirement benefits based on disability.

A person who receives workers’ compensation or other public disability benefits as well as SSDI benefits won’t be able to take home more than 80 percent of the average current earnings prior to disability.

BUT, there are some public benefits that won’t impact one’s SSDI payments. Those include:

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Although higher SSDI payments might reduce one’s eligibility for SSI, a person’s SSI payment won’t diminish an SSDI payment.
  • Veterans Administration Benefits.
  • State and local government benefits if Social Security taxes were deducted from earnings.

So for example, let’s say prior to disability, a worker earned $4,000 a month. That worker, with a spouse and two children, would be eligible to receive $2,200 monthly in SSDI benefits. Let’s say that worker additionally receives $2,000 a month from workers’ compensation. The total amount of those benefits - $4,200 – exceeds more than 80 percent ($3,200) of that worker’s average current earnings ($4,000). That would mean the SSDI benefit would be reduced by $1,000 so that the worker would only receive 80 percent.

Payments can also be reduced if an individual receives a lump sum payment for workers’ compensation or other disability payment in addition to the SSDI.

How Other Benefits Affect SSI

As far as SSI, the following benefits are considered “income” for the purposes of calculating eligibility:

  • Social Security benefits
  • Workers’ Compensation
  • Unemployment
  • Veterans Administration Benefits

So it’s probable that a person receiving one of these in addition to SSDI is not going to also qualify for SSI. It all depends whether the total sum of benefits exceeds the Federal Benefit Rate.

Applying for Concurrent Benefits

Most claimants don’t even know they might be eligible for both SSI and SSDI. The processes for medical evaluations of disability are exactly the same. So a person who qualifies for SSDI will also be considered “disabled” for SSI purposes.

The process of application is the same for concurrent claims as it would be for individual claims.

One key benefit to a concurrent claim is that once an SSDI recipient is eligible for SSI, he or she may also be eligible to get on Medicare. Usually, SSDI recipients have to wait two years, at which point they receive Medicaid, but SSI recipients can get Medicare right away. Although Medicaid tends to provide more services than Medicare, there are more doctors willing to accept Medicare payments, so finding a provider is usually a lot easier.

Contact the Boston SSDI Attorneys at Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers by calling 1-(617) 777-7777 for a free consultation.

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