SSI & SSD: Children & Elders

Supplemental Security Income Claims for Disabled Children - The Supplemental Security Income program was established by the Social Security Amendments of 1972, replacing several other federal programs. This was the first governmental program to provide cash payments for the benefit of children with disabilities, and as of December 2005, there were more than one million children in the U.S. who were eligible for Supplemental Security Income benefits.  The Supplemental Security Income program can be an extremely important source of financial support for those children with special health care needs or disabling conditions who are a part of a low-income family. In many states being eligible for Supplemental Security Income benefits also qualifies the child for Medicaid which provides access to healthcare.

Further, children who receive Supplemental Security Income will be referred to state Title V programs (children with special health care needs programs).  A child is considered disabled under Supplemental Security Income guidelines when he or she has a medically determinable mental or physical impairment which results in “marked and severe functional limitations.” The child’s impairment must be expected to last continuously for at least 12 months or must be expected to result in death. When determining the financial eligibility of a disabled child, the income and assets of the child’s family will be considered. Once the child turns 18, then his or her assets and income will be considered, rather than the parents’ assets and income(s). The medical impairment, whether mental or physical must prevent “substantial gainful activity.”

Supplemental Security Income may be confused with Social Security Disability Insurance however the programs are totally separate. SSDI is a program which falls under—and is funded by—Social Security funds. Supplemental Security Income is funded by general tax revenues. Social Security Disability Insurance does not implement income or asset limits, rather is based on employment history and payment of Social Security taxes through the workplace. The financial resource eligibility criteria for Supplemental Security Income can be complex; while there is a set of general guidelines, there are a number of exceptions to those guidelines. The upper income limits for Supplemental Security Income eligibility tends to be more liberal than for most other federal and state programs. There are specific limits on the asset amounts (including money in a savings or checking account), of $2,000 for a one-parent household and $3,000 for a two-parent household.

Children who qualify for Supplemental Security Income will receive a monthly payment based on the child’s income, the parents’ income and the level of assets. If a parent or guardian believes a child is eligible for Supplemental Security Income, he or she should apply for those benefits on behalf of the child with disabilities. When there is a strong likelihood the child will be found disabled once all the evidence has been gathered, the child may be placed on presumptive disability payments. Some of the disabilities which might qualify a child for presumptive disability payments include total deafness, total blindness, amputation of a leg at the hip, stroke, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, symptomatic HIV, terminal cancer, end-stage renal disease, ALS, Lou Gehrig disease or confinement without use of a wheelchair or crutches. It can be beneficial to speak to a disability lawyer Houston regarding SSI for your disabled child.

Social Security Disability Claims for Individuals Over 50 Years of Age - The Social Security Administration estimates that more than a quarter of today’s 20-year-olds will end up with a disabling condition which puts them out of work prior to reaching the age of 67. Disabilities which prevent individuals from working simply become more likely as they age and their bodies become less resistant to illnesses and injuries. Those individuals who have paid a sufficient amount into the system could be entitled to compensation in the form of Social Security Disability benefits.

According to Social Security’s 2013 Annual Statistical Report, disability benefits were paid to more than 10.2 million individuals in the United States, totally more than $11 billion per month. In that same year, benefits were terminated for about 770,000 disabled workers. For about one out of seven disabled beneficiaries, Supplemental Security Income payments were another source of income. The average age for disabled beneficiaries was 53, with slightly more men than women receiving disability benefits. A full one-third of the disability benefits were for mental disorders.

Older workers are less likely to be able to adjust to a different type of work, even if they are physically able. Therefore, since one of the chief considerations in determining SSDI benefits is the ability to engage in the work the individual did prior to the disability, an older worker may be more likely to be approved for Social Security Disability. The Social Security Administration defines categories of functioning capacity by the amount the job requires an individual to lift (i.e., sedentary does not involve lifting more than 10 pounds, light involves lifting 10-20 pounds, medium involves lifting 25-50 pounds, and heavy involves lifting more than 50 pounds.

For older workers, however, there may be a “break” in that even if they are physically capable of performing at a specific functional capacity, they might not be required to adjust to a new type of work. As an example, a worker who is between the ages of 50 and 54 might be able to collect SSDI benefits even if he or she can perform sedentary labor. A worker between the ages of 55-59 could be able to collect SSDI benefits even if he or she can perform light work, and in some cases, a worker between the ages of 60-64 could be able to collect SSDI even if he or she can perform medium work.

The bottom line is that your job skills may not be considered as valuable in the marketplace as an older worker—many employers will not hire older workers for a variety of reasons, including a perception that an older worker is harder to train, requires a higher salary and is more likely to file a health insurance claim. As an older, disabled worker, this means you have a better chance of obtaining the disability benefits you need, however it is still extremely important that you have an experienced disability lawyer Houston by your side who can answer your questions regarding how to file for disability. Contact a Social Security Disability lawyer Houston from Sullo & Sullo today for the help you need.

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