What Are Social Security Disability Benefits?

Interviewer: Could please just start by briefly explaining what social security benefits are, for people who aren’t real clear on exactly what that is.

Jeanne: Part of the time when we answer, it’ll be me and part of the time it’ll be my assistant, Elvira, who has been doing this, for quite a long time.

Individuals Consider Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits When They Have a Major Injury or Illness

Elvira: Well, if a person finds him or herself unable to work due to a disability, that’s where they would want to apply for their social security disability insurance or SSI.  One would apply to be able to receive monthly benefits.

To Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits, the Condition Must Last for 12 Months or Longer

If a person desires to apply for disability because they feel they have some kind of a condition, illness or injury, they have to have a condition or illness that’s going to keep them from working for at least one year.

A person can’t just apply for disability if they have an injury that will heal; that will be better within less than one year.  It has to be a condition that’s going to last for a whole year or more.

There Are Two Disability Benefit Programs That Attorney Morales’ Firm Helps Clients Apply for

There are two programs if they are disabled and they want to apply for disability.  We assist clients with applying for both of the programs.

Social Security Disability Insurance

The first one is the social security disability insurance.  This program is for people who have a medical condition and, like I said, it has to last for at least one year.  You are required to have worked and paid into the social security system.

Through the Deductions in Your Pay, You Must Have Paid in at least 40 Credits to Apply for Social Security Disability Insurance

Social security requires that you have 40 credits that you have paid into your social security record in order to apply.  If you don’t have enough credits, then they will not accept your application.

Supplemental Security Income

Then, for those people that do not have enough credits, there’s another program, which is the supplemental security income.

Supplemental Security Income Is a Need-Based Program

That’s like a program based on need.  They look at your income.  They look at your resources, and in order for you to be able to apply for this type of benefit, your family assets cannot be worth more than $3,000.  For an individual, your assets can’t be worth more than $2,000.

When Determining Your Eligibility, Assets Are Factored in, with the Exception of the Latest-Model Vehicle You Own and Your Residence

Elvira: What they consider are resources, is for example, vehicles, if you own property, have a bank account, or life insurance with cash value.  They do not count one car, which would be the newest car you have in your possession. They do not count the house you’re living in.  But if you have other property, then they will start counting it.

Jeanne: You’re living in a house and you have one car.  Income is evaluated separately, but if you have $10,000 in the bank, they’re going to say you have too many resources, and you don’t qualify.

The Programs Are Known as SSDI and SSI

But essentially, there are two programs.  One based on what you put into the system, and that’s SSDI, social security disability insurance.  The 40 credits she mentioned are derived from 40 quarters of work, so someone has to have worked about 10 years in order to have qualified.

But the SSI is essentially a welfare type program based on need.  It’s a lower payout, too.