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What Type Of Benefits Can I Receive?

Understanding the type of public benefits you can receive can be complicated. Boston disability lawyers at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman are here to help.

  • For those who are disabled or very ill and unable to work, there is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Spouses and dependents also may qualify for help, as well as survivors in the event of death. These are known as auxiliary benefits.
  • For those who struggle financially and are also blind, over the age of 65 or disabled (both children and adults), there may be assistance available through Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
  • Those who qualify for SSI can also get help from the Massachusetts State Supplement Program (SSP).

We know: It sounds like alphabet soup.

Our knowledgeable legal team can help you make sense of it. We carefully analyze details of your situation to determine which benefits you are eligible to receive and to make sure you have all that is needed for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to reach a favorable outcome.

Benefits for SSDI, SSI and SSP can sometimes be paid in addition to workers’ compensation benefits, unemployment benefits, veterans’ assistance and personal injury settlements or verdicts. In situations where someone is eligible to receive multiple benefits, it’s important to know how these benefits may overlap and affect one another.

These programs aren’t the only federal programs that provide assistance to those with disabilities, but they are the largest. The U.S. Census Bureau reports 1 in 5 Americans – or about 57 million – are living with a disability. Not all of those meet the strict definition of “disabled” used by SSI and SSDI, but about 30 percent are collecting benefits from these two federal programs.

As of 2015, the SSA reports:

  • 9 million disabled workers receive SSDI
  • 2 million dependents of disabled workers receive SSDI
  • 6.1 million survivors of disabled workers receive SSDI
  • 8.4 million people receive SSI

Disabled workers and their dependents account for about 15 percent of the total SSA benefits paid in a given month. A quarter of all 20-year-olds will at some point become disabled before they reach the age of 67, which is when they can begin collection of federal retirement benefits.

These benefits are often critical because, according to the SSA, nearly 70 percent of the U.S. work force has no long-term disability insurance.

Applying for federal benefits is necessary to help claimants:

  • Pay the bills.
  • Visit the doctor.
  • Fill prescriptions.
  • Support their families.

In applying for federal aid, recognize that unlike workers’ compensation and other forms of private disability insurance, there are no varying degrees of disability. So while workers’ compensation may offer a sum to a person who is temporarily partially disabled, SSDI and SSI programs provide assistance only to those who are totally disabled for a year or more, or else terminally ill.

Can I Receive SSDI?

SSDI is a program for people who are totally disabled or terminally ill and have earned enough “work credits” through payment of payroll taxes to the SSA via previous employment.

The exact amount of benefits will depend on claimant’s age, income and number of years worked. Usually, SSDI covers about 40 percent of a recipient’s pre-retirement income.

By “disability,” the SSA means:

  • Claimant cannot do the work he or she did before;
  • Claimant cannot adjust to other work because of the medical condition and;
  • Claimant’s disability has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.

The number of work credits necessary to secure benefits varies from year-to-year and is based on age and years worked. Workers receive between 1 and 4 credits for each year of employment. So workers who become disabled at a younger age need fewer credits. Ninety percent of workers in qualified jobs (paying into Social Security) will be eligible for SSDI if they become disabled.

The maximum benefit a person can receive, as of 2015, is $2,663, though the average benefit is $1,146. Disability payments received from other sources may result in an SSDI benefit reduction.

Once awarded, these benefits continue until you are able to work again on a regular basis. For those who are able at some point to make the transition back to work, there are a number of special rules, called “work incentives” to assist with that process.

If the amount you receive from SSDI leaves you with a monthly income that falls below the Federal Benefit Rate ($733 as of 2016), you may also be eligible to receive SSI.

Can I Receive SSI?

SSDI is intended to help those who are blind, disabled or aged and have very little income. The monthly assistance is by no means a windfall, but it does allow recipients to meet basic needs for food, clothing and shelter.

The amount of benefits awarded is based on income, resources and living arrangement. The SSA will first calculate your countable income and subtract that from the SSI Federal Benefit Rate ($733 for an individual or $1,100 for an eligible couple) to determine your federal SSI benefit. If your countable income is higher than the Federal Benefit Rate, you won’t be eligible to receive SSI.

Those with a higher income may receive less. However, there may also be assistance available through the SSP.

Can I Receive SSP Benefits?

Availability of state SSP benefits in Massachusetts is predicated on one’s eligibility to receive federal SSI. A person who meets those qualifications will also be able to receive SSP from the Commonwealth.

The amounts will vary depending on whether you are single or married and whether you live in a nursing home, assisted living or on your own. Recipients of SSI do not automatically receive SSP benefits. They must be applied for separately. For an example, an individual who is disabled, living independently and receiving the full federal benefit of $733 would be eligible to receive an additional $114 monthly, for a total benefit of $847. A person who is residing in a rest home, meanwhile, would be eligible for a state supplement of $293, for a total of $1,026.

If you are disabled, but aren’t sure what type of benefits you are eligible to receive, contact us today for more information.

Contact the Boston SSDI Attorneys at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman by calling 1-(617) 367-2900 for a free consultation.

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