SSD: Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Receive Workers’ Compensation and SSDI Benefits at the Same Time? You can potentially receive Social Security Disability benefits at the same time you are receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits if you qualify for both. SSDI and Workers’ Compensation are separate programs; SSDI is administered by the Social Security Administration while Workers’ Compensation programs are administered by individual states. If you were injured on the job and unable to work, you are likely to qualify for Workers’ Compensation under Texas state laws.

Workers’ Compensation is generally designed to be temporary, providing an income while you heal from your injuries or wait for your acceptance from Social Security Disability. If your accident with injuries leaves you unable to return to work for a significant amount of time you can simultaneously apply for Social Security Disability benefits; receiving Workers’ Compensation does not negatively affect your chances of being approved for SSDI.

Can I Receive SSI and SSDI at the Same Time? You could potentially receive SSI—Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability at the same time. To be eligible for such concurrent benefits, you must have been approved for SSDI, yet are receiving extremely low monthly payments through the program. The low payments could be due to the fact that you worked little over the past decade, were disabled at a relatively young age, earned low wages throughout your employment history, or had a limited work history prior to becoming disabled. So, once you start receiving SSDI and find that your monthly payments are extremely low, you may be eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income. Supplemental Security unearned income limits are typically about $710 per month, therefore if your monthly SSDI amount is less than this it could be beneficial to apply for SSI.

How Could My Retirement Benefits Affect SSDI or SSI? While Social Security Disability benefits do not generally affect your retirement pension, the reverse may not be true—your pension may affect your Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits, depending on the type of retirement pension you have. Supplemental Security Income benefits are more likely to be affected by your retirement pension because the program is need-based and has very strict income and asset limits. If you are approved for SSI, your monthly pension amount may decrease the amount of SSI benefits you received—known as an “offset.”

As far as Social Security Disability benefits are concerned, if you have a pension based on earnings for which no Social Security taxes were paid, then the SSA will consider your monthly pension in a different way, and your disability benefits could be decreased. Most private pensions and government pensions will have no affect on your Social Security Disability benefits, however some civil service retirement benefits and some disability pensions could affect your SSDI monthly amount.

Can I Qualify for Supplemental Security Income if I am Currently Receiving Social Security Retirement Benefits? Under some circumstances, you may be able to receive Supplemental Security Income—which are needs-based benefits according to your income and assets—at the same time you are receiving Social Security retirement benefits. This could be possible if your Social Security retirement benefits are very low—generally less than $710 per month, and you have no other source of income and few assets. You are allowed to have a home and one vehicle and still receive SSI benefits, but can only have $2,000 in additional assets.

Can I Qualify for SSDI if I Have Another Source of Benefits? Under SSDI rules, there is a substantial gainful activity amount limit, however this limit only relates to earned income. This means that most benefits you receive from private retirement, a pension or other sources will not count against you when applying for Social Security Disability benefits. You are also allowed to collect benefits from stocks, other investments, rental property or the sale of assets without being penalized under SSDI rules. Further, your spouse’s income or the income of others living in your home is not considered for receipt of SSDI benefits.

How Do Military Retirement or VA Disability Benefits Affect SSDI Eligibility? Because the Social Security Administration is completely separate from the Department of Veterans Affairs, it is possible to receive VA disability or military retirement benefits while also receiving Social Security Disability benefits. In fact, in some cases, if you qualify for VA disability benefits, this could help your SSDI application, as it has already been shown that you are unable to work. Unlike SSI, Social Security Disability benefits are not need-based, rather are based on your inability to work.

What is the Difference Between Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income? Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are two different programs. While they are both overseen by the Social Security Administration, SSI is based on need, while SSDI is available for those workers who have a specific number of work credits and have an illness or disability which prevents them from seeking substantial, gainful employment. SSI is available for low-income individuals who have an illness or disability which prevents them from working as well as a low amount of assets (less than $2,000 in assets other than your home and one vehicle). Those who are eligible for SSI may also be eligible for food stamps and Medicaid. 

Should I Apply for SSDI or SSI? If you are disabled and unable to work, you could potentially qualify for both SSDI and SSI. SSDI benefits are awarded to those who are unable to work due to a mental or physical impairment, and who have sufficient work credits to qualify. In some instances, however, the SSDI benefits may be low—less than $710 per month—allowing you to qualify for SSI benefits as well.

Will Getting Financial Help Affect My Disability Eligibility? While financial assistance may disqualify you for SSI benefits, it should have no effect on your Social Security Disability benefits. This is because while SSI is a need-based program, SSDI is based on your inability to work and earn a living, as well as on your work history. Social Security Disability is an earned benefit which you paid for with the money withheld from your paychecks in the form of Social Security taxes. So long as you do not have earned income which is more than the monthly limit ($1,220 per month), and you meet all the other requirements, then any financial help you receive from family or friends should not affect your SSDI eligibility at all. The SSDI income requirements include any work done for pay or profit; so long as your financial assistance does not fall under this category, then your Social Security Disability should not be affected.

Will Disability Benefits Lower My Pension? Your pension will not be lowered as a result of your Social Security Disability benefits, however your SSDI benefits could be lowered because of your pension. This is because SSDI benefits are not need-based. To qualify for SSDI benefits you must have only worked in the past and paid into Social Security via payroll taxes.

That being said, there are some instances in which you and your employer were exempt from Social Security taxes on pension contributions—no SS taxes were paid on your pension contributions or the earnings on which those contributions were based. This is not as common as it once was, but if you are receiving a pension for which no SS taxes were paid, your disability benefits could be decreased—but not the other way around. Most private pensions and government pensions have no affect on SSDI monthly benefits and vice-versa.

Why are Disability Rates Increasing? The spike in disability benefit rates is generally tied to the job market—or the lack thereof. During 2008 and 2009, disability benefit applications rose by 21 percent, largely believed to be due to the fact that people who are laid off are looking for any way to survive. Another reason disability rates could be increasing is due to medical advances, injuries or illnesses which once might have been fatal, but are now treatable.

In other words, the injuries and illnesses are not killing people, but they are leaving them disabled, and unable to work. The third reason for a rise in disability benefit rates is the aging population in the United States. Baby boomers have aged into retirement and are now between the ages of 50-70—peak years for experiencing disabilities and medical conditions which can leave an individual unable to work.

If I’m Receiving Other Benefits Can I Get Social Security? If you are currently receiving Social Security Disability benefits, then when you reach full retirement age, your SSDI benefits will generally be converted into SS retirement benefits. With one exception, you cannot receive both SSDI and Social Security retirement benefits simultaneously.  The exception occurs if you took early retirement through SS at age 62, prior to being approved for disability benefits.

If you drew less than full retirement monthly benefits and then were approved for SSDI, Social Security will make up the difference between the early retirement amount and the full disability amount for the months you were disabled but were receiving early retirement benefits. If you are receiving Social Security retirement, but the monthly amount is very low (and you have few assets), then you may also be able to receive Supplemental Security Income.

Does My Current Health Insurance Affect SSDI or SSI? Your current health insurance generally does not affect your ability to receive SSDI or SSI benefits. Further, regardless of your current health insurance coverage, if you are receiving SSDI you are eligible for Medicare, and if you are receiving SSI, you may be eligible for Medicaid. You will need to determine whether your current insurance qualifies as primary or secondary to Medicaid or Medicare. Primary insurance pays first, while secondary insurance pays after primary insurance has already paid, taking care of the remainder of unpaid medical bills—as a supplement to your primary insurance.

Should I File for Unemployment and Social Security Disability? In most cases, it can be a problem to collect unemployment benefits at the same time you are applying for Social Security Disability. When you are collecting unemployment, you are essentially saying you are able and willing to work, while applying for SSDI essentially says you are unable to work for at least a year. Although Social Security does not specifically state that those collecting unemployment cannot also collect SSDI, if your application makes it to the administrative law judge hearing, your unemployment benefits can and will be considered in determining whether you will receive Social Security Disability benefits.

That being said, in some states you are allowed to collect unemployment even if you are only looking for part-time work, however in the state of Texas you may only apply for unemployment benefits if you are ready and willing to work full time. If you are ready and willing to work full time, you cannot simultaneously claim you are too disabled to work. Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income benefits can be complex. You may have many questions associated with your eligibility for these programs, and the Sullo & Sullo Social Security Disability lawyers in Houston, Texas can answer those questions. Having an experienced Social Security lawyer Houston by your side can truly make a difference in the outcome of your SSDI or SSI application for benefits. 

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