Social Security disability benefits are payable to people who cannot work because they have a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death. Many people do not realize that Social Security offers two distinct disability programs.
The Social Security Disability Insurance program, also called DIB or Title II disability benefits, is based on a person’s earnings record. To qualify for these types of benefits, a person has to be insured, meaning he or she has worked and paid Social Security taxes to earn sufficient “quarters of coverage.” The younger an individual, the fewer quarters of coverage he or she is required to have to be insured for disability benefits. If a person becomes disabled before age 22, he or she may qualify for benefits based on a parent’s record. Because these benefits are based on earnings, income and assets amounts do not matter. A person could be a millionaire and still qualify based on a disability. For more information, read SSA’s brochure at http://ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10029.pdf.
On the flip side of the coin, there is the Supplemental Security Income program, also called SSI or Title XVI benefits. While SSI has the same disability requirements, it is a program for those with limited resources (income and assets). The Social Security Administration does not count a person’s home, one vehicle used for transportation, or household goods when determining if he or she meets the financial requirements for SSI. There are other exceptions, but these are the most common. You can learn more by reading SSA’s brochure at http://ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-11000.pdf.
DIB benefits are connected with Medicare insurance coverage. Medicare coverage is available 24 months after a person becomes entitled to payment of DIB disability benefits.
SSI benefits are connected with Medicaid coverage, which is generally available immediately upon entitlement to SSI benefits.
There are other differences between the two programs and other ways to qualify for benefits than discussed in this brief overview. To learn more about how to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, contact me or call me at the number above. I would be happy to discuss your unique situation and how our firm can assist you with a claim for benefits.