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Social Security benefits programs are distinct

Fresno residents who have disabilities may be entitled to disability benefits under the Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income programs. There are major differences in the eligibility requirements and benefits for these programs.

SSI benefits are provided when a person's income and resources fall below a certain threshold even if they did not work or pay into the Social Security system. SSD benefits, like Social Security retirement benefits, is based upon a person's work record. Individuals have to work for a certain time period based upon their age before they incurred their disability. Benefits are based upon income history and work duration.

Claimants have to establish that they have a disability to qualify for benefits under both programs. SSI is available to an individual who has a disability, is blind or who is over 65-years-old. However, SSD benefits do not apply to non-disabled senior citizens because they would otherwise qualify for retirement benefits.

Claimants are ineligible for SSI if, as individuals, their resources are over $2,000. Claimants with marital resources over $3,000 do not qualify. These resources include most personal property, but exclude the primary home, among other items. The first $65.00 in wage income earned each month is excluded from determining benefit eligibility, but every two dollars earned over that amount will lead to a one-dollar reduction in monthly benefits.

SSD benefit claimants must provide documentation on their disability and a work history evaluation. A disability is a medical condition that is expected to last over one year or result in death. The SSA reviews whether this condition is severe, meets or equals the severity of a listed impairment, whether the person can continue to do the same pre-disability work or whether they can engage in other work. The SSA also reviews the total work duration for SSD. These range from 1.5 years for individuals who become disabled before they were 28 to 9.5 years for those who became disabled after they turned 60.

Working and monthly earnings over $1,130 disqualify a person from SSD. Blind applicants who work and earn $1,820 per month are disqualified. SSI pays monthly benefits of $733.00 for individuals and $1,100 for couples. SSD benefits are based upon a person's work history and are calculated on a weighted formula.

Source: The Motley Fool, "SSI vs. SSDI: Understanding the key differences in Social Security disability programs," Matthew Frankel, March 25, 2016

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