Social Security Disability Benefits

Marsha Goodman understands the programs administered by the Social Security Administration to provide income for adults with disabilities.  If Social Security determines that an adult suffers from a condition that has, or is likely to, prevent the adult from working for at least a year, or that is likely to result in death within the next twelve months, the adult may be eligible for one of two benefits programs:

Social Security Disability Income. (SSDI) provides government-sponsored disability income for adults who have paid into the Social Security system (usually through payroll deduction) for a specified period of time, based on the age of the applicant. The amount of the benefit is based on the amount of money that the adult has paid in, and there are no limitations on the amount of assets the person can own or unearned income (from interest or dividends on those assets) that can be earned. A person who is eligible for SSDI becomes eligible for Medicare Health Insurance coverage two years from the date they become eligible for SSDI. For certain conditions which are likely to result in death within two years, this waiting period is waived.

Supplemental Security Income. (SSI) provides minimal income (up to the federal poverty level) to adults who meet Social Security’s definition of disabled, but who have never worked, or who have not worked enough to be eligible for SSDI. In order to be eligible for SSI, an adult may only have minimal assets, and the benefit amount may be reduced to offset any income the adult has, including interest, dividends or room and board provided by another person at no cost. Every adult who is eligible for SSI is also automatically eligible for health insurance coverage through the Medicaid system of the state in which they reside.  Often, this medical coverage is the main reason that an adult might apply for SSI. Someone whose disability is the result of an accident for which he or she has received a damage settlement, or whose eligibility for SSI might be affected by an inheritance from parents or other family members, may be able to remain eligible for SSI by creating a Special Needs Trust.

Many of the planning tools and community resources applicable to planning for our elder clients apply to disabled adults as well. If you or a family member suffers from a disability, Marsha Goodman encourages you to consider whether a Life Care Plan would meet your needs.