Social Security Disability is an important part of the system that helps Americans with disabilities support themselves when they can’t work. However, there is a long list of misconceptions and misinformation about the program. Well, the Tulsa disability attorneys here at Troutman & Troutman want to do our part in squashing some of these misguided notions. So, here are a few questions you may have about Social Security Disability and the answers you need.
Five Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability
- Are SSDI Benefits an Entitlement? Many people have the misconception that Social Security Disability insurance is a type of welfare program, but this just isn’t true. SSDI is funded by employment taxes paid by you and every other hard-working American. So, if you have worked long enough, and your condition prevents you from working, then you will be qualified for benefits that you have been paying into for your whole career.
- What Disabilities Qualify You for SSDI? To qualify for SSDI, you must have a physical or mental disability that prevents you from working. The condition must either last for over a year or be expected to result in death. For specifics on the conditions recognized by the Social Security Administration (SSA), check their blue book online, and remember that these are only guidelines. A combination of impairments may also qualify claimants for benefits.
- What Is Substantial Gainful Activity? Just because a person is collecting benefits doesn’t mean they cannot work. However, in order to be eligible for benefits, that person must not earn more than a certain threshold. Anyone making more than that threshold—$1,170 in 2017—may be deemed as participating in substantial gainful activity, which could result in the termination of benefits.
- Is There a Difference Between SSDI and SSI? Some people believe that SSDI (Social Security Disability insurance) and SSI (Supplemental Security Income) are the same thing, but that’s not true. Both programs are overseen by the SSA, but SSI is income based. SSI is for people with disabilities who have little to no income, and qualification is not based on your work history.
- Will Workers’ Compensation Affect SSDI Benefits? Receiving workers’ compensation or other public disability benefits could cause a reduction in your SSDI payments. If those other payments exceed 80 percent of your average work earnings prior to your injury or illness, your benefits could be reduced. However, disability payments from private sources such as pensions or insurance benefits should not have an effect on your SSDI benefits.
Sounds complicated, doesn’t it? Navigating eligibility for SSDI can be a very complex, and your way of life is often on the line when you apply. This is why it is a good idea to work with an experienced disability attorney from the very beginning of the process. An attorney can help ensure that you take all the proper steps in your disability application. That could save you months or even years during your application process.