SSD vs. SSI
What is the difference between Social Security Disability Income (SSDI or SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
If you are thinking of applying for Social Security Disability or have already applied, you may be wondering what the difference between SSD and SSI is. Although the two programs are both administered by the Social Security Administration and the criteria to obtain benefits under either program are substantially similar, it is important to note that SSD and SSI are two separate and independent programs with different eligibility requirements.
What is Social Security Disability Income (SSDI)?
Social Security Disability Income, or SSD, provides disability benefits to individuals who are insured through their contributions to the Social Security trust fund. Workers contribute to this fund through FICA Social Security taxes that are taken in the form of payroll taxes when a person is working. In exchange for this, an individual who is working obtains work credits through Social Security. These work credits are used to determine if an individual is eligible for SSD benefits. Each individual who stops working will have a date last insured, which is the last date that the work credits they have earned will allow them to remain insured and eligible for SSD benefits. Once this date last insured has passed, it is no longer possible to obtain SSD benefits and because of this, it is very important to obtain an experienced Social Security Disability attorney to help you protect your rights and benefits.
In addition, the amount of SSD benefits an individual can earn is dependent upon a worker’s lifetime average earnings covered by Social Security. And, if an individual obtains SSD benefits they will become eligible for Medicare after receiving SSD benefits for two years.
What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is not an insurance program like SSD. Instead, SSI is a means-tested program that is administered by Social Security based solely upon an individual’s needs according to income and assets. SSI is not funded through payroll taxes but instead is funded through general tax revenues. In order to be eligible for SSI benefits an individual must not exceed the asset limit that is determined by Social Security and you must not exceed a certain monthly income rate.
SSI benefits are not calculated based upon the earnings that an individual has made but instead they are calculated based upon a set rate that deducts any countable income that an individual may be earning. Additionally, an individual who is receiving SSI benefits is not eligible for Medicare like an individual who is receiving SSD benefits, instead, SSI recipients are eligible to receive Medicaid.
How do I apply for SSD or SSI?
Because there are many differences between SSD and SSI it is important to obtain an experienced Social Security Disability attorney in the event that you are seeking to obtain disability benefits from Social Security. Our office will do everything in our power to aid you in the process of obtaining Social Security disability benefits. Contact one of our attorneys today for a free consultation.
Can I get disability or SSI benefits for my seizures?
If you suffer from epilepsy or some other seizure disorder and have uncontrolled seizures, you may be wondering if it is possible to obtain Social Security disability benefits. The answer to this question is yes, it is possible to obtain Social Security disability benefits as a result of your seizures. There are several conditions that must be met before a successful claim for disability benefits because of seizures can be made.
Social Security Disability Rules for Seizures
Under Social Security disability, there are certain impairments that are considered severe enough that they prevent a person from performing substantial gainful activity. If an individual is able to meet the requirements for one of these listings, then they are considered to be disabled and can be awarded Social Security disability benefits.
Epilepsy (and other seizure disorders) are evaluated under listing 11.02, which focuses on epilepsy and seizure disorders. Under this listing, there are four ways to obtain disability benefits by meeting the requirements of the listing. Two of the options are for individuals who suffer generalized tonic-clonic seizures, also known as “grand mal” seizures. The other two options are for individuals who suffer from dyscognitive seizures, also known absence as “petit mal” seizures. Under any of the options, it is a requirement that an individual is following the treatment that has been prescribed by a medical professional. Furthermore, it is necessary to be able to provide proof of medical treatment in order to be successful in any disability claim.
In order to meet the listing for tonic-clonic seizures an individual must either have a tonic-clonic seizure at least once a month for three consecutive months despite medical treatment or the tonic-clonic seizures must occur at least once every two months for at least four consecutive months and have a marked limitation in: (1) physical functioning, (2) understanding, remembering, or applying information, (3) interaction with others, (4) concentrating, persisting or maintaining pace or (5) adapting or managing oneself despite medical treatment.
To meet the listing for a dyscognitive seizure an individual must have either a dyscognitive seizure at least once a week for at least three consecutive months despite treatment or have at least one dyscognitive seizure every two weeks for at least 3 consecutive months despite treatment and the individual must have a marked limitation in: : (1) physical functioning, (2) understanding, remembering, or applying information, (3) interaction with others, (4) concentrating, persisting or maintaining pace or (5) adapting or managing oneself.
How Drug and Alcohol Use affects disability for Seizures
Another factor that must be considered for disability involving seizures is whether there is evidence of drug addiction or alcoholism. For Social Security disability, if there is evidence of past drug or alcohol use, then the administrative law judge conducting the hearing may find that the drug or alcohol use is a contributing factor material to the determination of disability. If this is the case, then the judge has determined that the disabling limitations have resulted from drug or alcohol use and that any limitations not caused by drugs or alcohol are not severe enough to be disabling. For individuals who are afflicted with seizures and have a past history of drug or alcohol use, the judge will ultimately determine if the drugs and/or alcohol contributed to the seizures and if it did, then a claim for disability benefits might be unsuccessful.
What should I do if I want to get disability for my seizures?
Successfully obtaining Social Security disability benefits as a result of epilepsy or another seizure disorder is a difficult and involving process that contains many different factors and considerations. In order to optimize your chances of obtaining benefits if you do suffer from seizures, it is important to retain an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer who understands the Social Security disability system and seizure disorder. Our office will do everything in our power to aid you in the process of obtaining Social Security disability benefits. Contact one of our attorneys today for a free consultation.
Am I automatically entitled to Social Security Disability benefits if my doctor says I’m disabled?
If a doctor has said that you are disabled, you might be thinking you have an “easy” Social Security Disability case. Perhaps your doctor has filled out a form for Medicaid (insurance through the Department of Public Welfare) that states you’re disabled. But, despite all of this, it does not mean that you are automatically entitled to Social Security disability benefits and it does not mean you have an “easy” case.
Instead, it is important to understand that “disability” under Social Security is a legal determination that must be made by Social Security, often by an administrative law judge (also known as an “ALJ”). This ALJ is a Social Security Judge who will ultimately determine whether you are disabled or not. And in making that determination, the ALJ looks to the rules and regulations that Social Security has issued in order to make the decision. As part of the decision, the ALJ will look to medical opinions and medical records from treating sources such as your doctor. But, it is important to understand that this is only one area that the ALJ takes into consideration. It is vital to have an experienced Social Security disability attorney, one who understands the Social Security’s rules and regulations on disability, aid you in the process of obtaining benefits—particularly at the appeal stage.
Alternatively, if you have visited a doctor and the doctor has expressed an opinion that you are not disabled, you still may be able to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Because disability under Social Security is a legal determination, it is possible to obtain benefits for disability even when the doctor does not believe that you are disabled. For example, Social Security’s rules contain the Medical/Vocational Guidelines, often referred to as the GRID rules, which contain different standards for individuals based on their age, work history, and education. These GRID rules are typically used for individuals over the age of 50 because at that point, the standards for disability are often relaxed. Because of this, an individual whose doctor does not believe that the person is disabled may very well be found to be disabled under the legal rules and regulations set for by Social Security.
It is vital to retain an experienced Social Security disability attorney when considering whether to apply for disability. Our office will do everything in our power to aid you in the process of obtaining Social Security disability benefits. Contact one of our attorneys today for a free consultation.
Can I sue my employer if I was hurt at work?
If you have been injured at work in Pennsylvania, you are normally unable to bring a personal injury lawsuit against your employer—even in cases where the employer was negligent and caused you to suffer an injury. Instead, the only possible recovery for a work injury is through the workers’ compensation system. Why is this case? To understand why, it is best to understand the history of worker’s compensation and how the system was created.
A brief history of Workers’ Compensation
Prior to the introduction of workers’ compensation statutes, any worker who was injured on the job had to prove in court that the employer’s negligence was responsible for the injury in order to receive compensation. This was often a long and costly process for any worker to undergo. And, there were many defenses that employers could use to avoid liability for injuries including contributory negligence which prevented recovery if the employee was even slightly at fault for the accident, the fellow-servant doctrine which could allow employers to avoid liability if another employee was the cause of the injury, and the assumption of the risk doctrine which prevented recovery if the employee was aware of and assumed the risks and dangers of the workplace. Due in large part to these defenses, many injured workers recovered no compensation in the event that they were hurt while at work.
But, despite the low odds of recovery, employers also faced their own risks. The system of proving employer negligence often led to court costs and judgments that employers could not predict and they faced rising workplace liability insurance premiums. Thus, the system provided significant incentives for reform from the perspective of both the worker and the employer. These reforms began first in Europe, starting in Germany in 1884. These workers’ compensation laws soon spread quickly to the United States, with Wisconsin passing the first law in 1911. Soon, the other states began to follow and each began to pass their own individual workers’ compensation laws. Pennsylvania passed its first Workers Compensation Act in 1915. By 1921, all but six states had replaced the old system of requiring a worker to sue to recover for an injury with a modern workers’ compensation system.
Workers’ compensation is often described as a “grand bargain” between workers and the employer. Under workers’ compensation, workers have relinquished the right to sue employers for any injuries that may be suffered in exchange for no-fault occupational injury insurance from the employer. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation is a complex and difficult system to navigate; if you have been injured, it is best to contact an attorney who understands workers’ compensation in order to ensure that you are properly compensated for your injury and that your rights are protected.