If you’ve ever looked at your paycheck and wondered at why the government takes so much money from it, you may have noticed a line item listed as SS or SSA. These numbers stand for Social Security, and it’s one of the most important organizations that our taxes pay for. Started in the 1930s under President Roosevelt, the Social Security Administration is there to provide options for citizens who are about to retire, face unemployment, or cannot work due to physical limitations. The SSA provides these benefits in one of two ways: Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance. These are known as SSI and SSDI, respectively. So what’s the difference between the two? Can a person qualify for both? Let’s look into each one and break it down.
The first option, SSI, is something that virtually all working citizens will benefit from. If you have been working for the majority of your life, ideally you’d want to be able to retire when you get to old age. In the U.S., the retirement age is still 65, despite advances in medical technology which can allow a person to live well into their 90s. As such, you want to make sure that you have enough money to cover your living expenses for as long as you live. While some people have retirement plans and 401k(s), SSI is there to provide supplemental income to those who need it. This isn’t to say that all SSI recipients are equal, though. Benefits are paid depending on a variety of factors, most notably, your age and how long you were employed and paid into the system. Obviously if you choose to retire early after only working a decade or so, you won’t receive as much as someone who has been working for 50 years and retires at 70.
Now we get to SSDI. While it would be ideal for every American to be able to work and provide for themselves, it’s a sad reality that many cannot, either due to injury or physical limitations. SSDI covers a broad range of injuries and disabilities, so the process for filing a claim can be lengthy and arduous. The Administration has a list of accepted disabilities, so if you are trying to file without falling under one of the listed categories, the likelihood of your application being denied is high. This isn’t to say that you cannot receive benefits, but only that it will take extra effort and evidence to do so. Additionally, because SSDI is only based on physical limitations, you can qualify, even if you have never worked. However, much like SSI benefits, if you have worked and paid into the system before you became injured or disabled, you have a much greater chance of both being accepted and receiving higher payouts.
Hopefully, this has shed some light onto how the Social Security Administration operates. Unfortunately, because of the high demand and limited resources, not all applications are approved, even if they fit the requirements. Should that happen, it can be beneficial to seek out an attorney who specializes in Social Security Law. A Lawyer can help answer any questions you may have and help you prepare your case to maximize the chances of being accepted. If you’re in New Jersey, feel free to call Mazur Disability Law, and we can guide you through any application process. They’re your benefits; you should receive them as soon as possible.