Social Security (SSD/SSI)

All too often injuries or serious illnesses can prevent you from working entirely. This can be devastating for workers who haven’t reached retirement age. Fortunately, the federal government provides benefits in the form of disability compensation through the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA provides that compensation through two different programs, Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which each have their own rules and requirements about who qualifies.

Social Security Disability

Social Security Disability, or SSD, provides payments to workers who have not reached retirement age, but cannot work for an extended period of time due to disability. In order to qualify for benefits, you must either be:
(1)    A disabled and insured worker under age 66; or
(2)    The family member of an eligible worker.

To qualify as an “insured worker,” you must have worked for both long enough and recently enough. Family members can be paid “auxiliary benefits,” also known as dependents’ benefits, if they meet the qualifications under a family member who is eligible for Social Security Disability or retirement benefits. 

All U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible to receive SSD benefits, as long as they meet the SSA’s requirements. If you are not a citizen and not a permanent resident, you may still qualify for SSD benefits if you meet certain criteria.

If you qualify as an insured worker, your disability must also meet certain criteria in order to receive SSD benefits. Those requirements include:
(1)    You must be unable to engage in substantial gainful employment because of your disability;
(2)    Your disability must be expected to last at least one year;
(3)    Your disability must be listed within the SSA’s list of impairments.

If you are granted SSD benefits, your monthly payments are based on your average lifetime earnings. The severity of your disability does not factor into your monthly benefit amount. You may also be entitled to receive past benefits if you show that you were disabled before the date of your SSD application.

Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is a benefit for adults and children who are disabled and have limited income and resources. If you have too much income you will be denied SSI benefits no matter how severe your medical problems. Your disability or medical condition must meet the same requirements as those outlined above for SSD benefits.

Securing Your Social Security Disability Benefits

The road to getting SSD or SSI benefits can often be long, complicated, and frustrating. The initial application, which is the first step to applying for those benefits, is complex and lengthy. Making mistakes on the initial application can greatly lower your chances at qualifying for benefits. 
The federal government denies countless initial applications for SSD and SSI every year, including many that contained no mistakes. Getting denied SSD or SSI benefits from your initial application triggers an even more confusing appeals process. Unfortunately, Social Security Administration employees at the local office are not able to help you through these challenging steps. 

If you are unable to work due to injury or illness, having an experienced Social Security attorney in your corner can make a huge difference. Attorney Alexis Berg-Townsend is one of the Lehigh Valley’s very best Social Security attorneys, having won benefits for countless clients over the years. Alexis leads a group of talented attorneys who can help steer you through every step of the SSD and SSI process, from the initial application to the appeal. Our team knows the strategies that work with the SSA and we will fight tirelessly to help secure the disability benefits you deserve.