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West Virginia Social Security Blog

SSI and SSDI: What's the difference?

When people think about Social Security benefits, they often think about retirement benefits. These benefits are funded through payroll taxes.

Retirement benefits aren't the only form of assistance offered through the Social Security Administration (SSA). There are also two types of disability benefits that Social Security provides: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

Appealing an SSI denial

The Social Security Administration oversees the Supplemental Security Income program, which provides cash benefits to low-income individuals who are elderly or disabled. The SSA frequently makes decisions regarding who was entitled to receive benefits, the amount of those benefits and, in some cases, whether the people have been overpaid benefits that they now must repay. West Virginia residents who apply for or receive benefits may at times disagree with the SSA's decisions.

Fortunately, when this happens, people can appeal it. The first step in the appeals process is requesting a reconsideration. This is done by mail. If the SSA stands behind its decision, the person may decide to request a hearing. During the hearing, the applicant or beneficiary who is appealing the decision can present their case before an administrative law judge. The person filing the appeal can also appoint a representative to speak on his or her behalf.

Social Security Disability eligibility

The Social Security system includes benefits for people unable to work due to disability. Many working-age people in West Virginia rely on these payments when injury or illness prevents them from earning a living. More than 10.5 million disabled workers nationwide or their families collect disability benefits. People who lose their ability to work must meet certain requirements to receive payments, and their status will change when they reach retirement age.

The Social Security Administration defines disability as a medical problem that will prevent employment for at least one year or cause death. Applicants must pass the recent work test and duration of work test to qualify. Adults need to have worked in covered employment for at least 10 years. People need to show that they worked at least five of those ten years before the disability arose. When applicants meet all conditions, the SSA should approve benefits. After collecting disability payments for two years, a person then becomes eligible for Medicare.

Taking Social Security early may not be detrimental

For those in West Virginia or elsewhere in the nation born after 1960, the full retirement age is 67. This is the time at which they are eligible for their full Social Security benefit, and most would say that individuals should get as close as possible to 67 before taking their benefits. However, there may be a few good reasons why people would want to start taking benefits early.

Those who are forced into retirement may have no choice other than to take benefits early. If this happened because of a health issue, an individual may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. If approved, they receive their full benefit regardless of when they retire. At full retirement age, those benefits are converted into regular retirement benefits. It may also make sense to take benefits early if a spouse can wait a few years to retire.

Requirements For Applying And Receiving SSI

Residents in West Virginia and other states who are unable to work because of a disability or because they are at retirement age can sometimes file for Supplemental Security Income, or SSI. There are a few requirements that one needs to know about before applying. A person can complete an application online or at a local Social Security office.

Anyone who is age 65 or older, blind or disabled can apply for SSI. Others who are on a limited income, have limited financial resources and are United States citizens can apply as well. A person must not be confined to an institution or apply for other types of cash benefits, such as a pension. There are other requirements that need to be met as well. One must give the Social Security Administration permission to contact financial institutions and other sources to get more information about their circumstance.

The importance of help when asking for disability benefits

West Virginia residents who are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income may want help doing so. This is because roughly two-thirds of all initial applications are rejected. Assistance may come from an attorney or from a representative who is not an attorney. Either way, applicants will pay the same standard fee which is based on how much an individual receives in retroactive benefits.

The fee is capped at 25 percent of benefits up to $6,000. Payment is not made until an application is approved, and the money comes out of the first check that a person receives. Whoever an individual hires may also bill an applicant for any costs incurred during the application process. If an initial application is rejected, the next step may be to ask for a reconsideration or to take the case directly to an administrative law judge.

Applying for social security disability insurance

Many residents in West Virginia are living with serious disabilities and illnesses that can make it difficult to work and earn a living. Many of these individuals may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance, also known as SSDI. Recipients receive cash payments that they can use for living expenses.

As you might expect, qualifying for Social Security disability can be challenging. Since the applicant must prove they have a long-term disability that prevents them from being able to work, significant documentation is required. This may include medical referrals, testimony from family and friends as well as work records.

The disability onset date and why it's so important

When someone suffers a debilitating injury or has lived with a disability that prevents them from living their lives in the way they want, it is abundantly clear to those individuals when their issues "began." Proving that is irrelevant in this context: they know, on a deep and personal level, how their lives have been impacted as a result of an injury or disability.

Where proving this fact does become relevant is when the Social Security Administration becomes involved. When you are seeking Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI benefits), you have to prove what is called a "disability onset date." Your disability onset date is the moment in time when you became unable to work as a result of a disabling medical condition.

Social Security disability evaluations

West Virginia residents who are living with serious illnesses and disabilities may wish to consider the possibility of applying for Social Security disability benefits. These benefits are intended for individuals who are disabled and, as a result of their disability, unable to work.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has established a Listing of Impairments, which is the criteria used by physicians and others to determine whether an applicant has a disability that may entitle them to benefits. Applications are typically received by SSA employees in field offices before they are referred to a Disability Determination Services (DDS) office in the state where the applicant lives.

Conquering nervousness about an SSDI hearing

When a person has a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits denied, they might decide to appeal the decision. One of the things appealing sometimes leads to is a person having a hearing with an administrative law judge.

Now, just the idea of having to come before a judge to fight for a chance to get benefits might make some people nervous. They might be worried that they’ll miss something important, do something wrong or make a simple error with big ramifications during such a proceeding.

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Shawn Taylor, PLLC
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Charleston, WV 25301

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