Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): Part 1

Q: Can someone get approved for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and not approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

A: Yes. For SSDI, you must have earned enough credits through work by paying FICA taxes into the Social Security system to be eligible to receive benefits (this is called being “insured” for disability). Many people who are no longer insured because they haven’t worked recently can still get SSI. You may also qualify for only SSI if you haven’t worked at all. If you qualify for both programs you can receive both, but often a person’s SSDI benefit will be high enough that they will not be able to receive both.  To qualify for either program, you must meet the definition of disabled: to get SSI you must also have limited income and resources.

Q: Will I get health insurance if I get disability?

A: If you do receive SSDI, you will get Medicare after a 24-month qualifying period.

Q: I am receiving Social Security disability benefits. Can I receive my disability benefits while I try to return to work?

A: The Social Security Administration (SSA) has special rules called “work incentives” that help you keep your cash benefits and Medicare while you try to work. There is a trial work period during which time you can receive full benefits regardless of how much you earn, as long as you report your work activity and continue to have a disabling impairment. The trial period continues until you accumulate nine months (not necessarily consecutive) in which you perform what we call “services” within a rolling 60-month period.

Q: How is my SSDI benefit amount calculated?

A: It all depends on how much you contributed. The more money you made, the more you will get back in Social Security disability benefits.  If you die before reaching retirement age, the government does not return your payments. If you live many years on after retirement, you continue to receive the monthly benefit long after you’ve been paid what you contributed.

Q: Is there an age requirement to receive Social Security benefits?

A: No. A person of any age can be found disabled by Social Security. The rules change for people over 50 years of age and over 55 years of age, making it easier to obtain benefits.

Q: How long will I receive benefits?

A: You will receive benefits until you reach full retirement age, or until your condition improves to the point that you are able to work on a full-time basis for over nine months. Social Security has instituted a number of provisions to encourage individuals to try to return to work without jeopardizing their disability payments. If you worked for a short period of time after the onset of your disability, you may still be entitled to a full period of disability.

Q: What if I have other income?

A: If you receive SSDI, there is no limit to the amount of other income you can receive, as long as it is not from work activity. For example, if you own an apartment building and receive income from the rents, or if you have investments that pay you dividends, that income would be acceptable. If you receive SSI, any change in your household income, resources, or assets may affect the amount you receive.

Q: How and when will I receive retroactive benefits/back pay?

A: If your total back pay is over $3,600, it will be paid in three installments set six months apart.  The first two installments will be no more than $1,869 and the third installment will be the remaining balance of any of your retroactive benefits.

The installment payment will not be counted as a resource for nine months after the payment is received.  If the payment is not spent before the nine-month period ends, the money left over will be counted as a resource.  Things bought with the money may count as resources only the month after they were bought.

Q: Are There Times When I Could Get All of My Back Benefits at One Time?

A: You may get all of your payments at once if you are not eligible for SSI now and it appears that you will not be eligible for the 12 months after we first wrote to you about your back benefits.

You may get all of your payments right now if you have a terminal illness and are not expected to live beyond 12 months.

You may get larger installment payments if you are a person who has debts and expenses and the current debt is related to food, clothing, shelter, medicine or medically necessary services, supplies or equipment.

You may also get larger installment payments if you have current expected expenses in the near future for medicine or medically necessary services, supplies or equipment or the purchase of a home.

Q: Am I Eligible For A Medical Card?

A: You are eligible for a medical card if you are entitled to $1 of SSI benefits.

Q: What Happens if I Become Incarcerated?

A: You are not eligible to receive SSI benefits for any full calendar month you are in prison or jail.

If you have more questions, Jan Dils Attorneys at Law have years of expertise in helping individuals successfully apply for federal disability payments. Call us today for a free initial consultation at 877.526.3457.

We Won't Take “NO” for an Answer®

To Schedule an Appointment, Call Us Toll Free at 1.877.873.8208 or Email Us for a Prompt Response.

Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law

Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law