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Who qualifies for Social Security benefits?

West Virginia residents who think they might be entitled to Social Security benefits could be confused about the requirements. There are two types of Social Security disability benefits, and the qualification requirements for each type are based not only on disability but on factors including work history and income.

Supplement Security Income is based on need rather than work history. People who are disabled or blind and fall below a certain income level may qualify for SSI. Social Security Disability is based on work history. SSD works like insurance: While working, the worker pays into the system to insure against income loss if he or she is ever disabled and unable to work.

The system works by assigning work credits to workers who pay in. In order to qualify for SSD, someone must have enough work credits. The other qualification is of course, being disabled. Disability is defined as a medical condition that has prevented the worker from engaging in gainful work activity for the previous 12 months or is expected to prevent working for the next 12 months.

People who have a disability but do not qualify for SSD on the basis of their work credits could apply for SSI, which is also known as the Title 16 program. SSI does require having assets that are valued at less than $2,000. SSD has no limitation on assets, but both programs have income limits. The rules for determining actual disability are the same for both programs.

Family members of disabled workers might also be entitled to receive benefits. These family members include children, spouses and dependent parents or former spouses in some cases. Family members might be entitled to 50 percent of the amount of the worker's SSD benefit.

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Shawn Taylor, PLLC
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