Virginia residents with disabilities may be able to qualify for both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The eligibility criteria and application processes for these programs are challenging, though, and people can easily become overwhelmed by everything they need to do to prepare a claim. Injuries or medical conditions that cause disability are already stressful enough, both emotionally and financially. The complexity of a disability application only adds to that stress. To make matters worse, eligibility requirements can change because of new developments in people’s lives or policy updates in Washington, D.C. An application based on outdated criteria can lead to lengthy delays or, at worst, denial of benefits.
The experienced Social Security disability benefits attorneys at Montagna Law are here to guide Virginia residents through the application process. They have experience with Virginia’s disability laws and knowledge of the specific regulations governing SSI and SSDI. Their assistance can significantly improve the likelihood that you will receive the benefits you need in a timely manner. They can also take the administrative burden off of your shoulders so you can focus on your health and well-being.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is perhaps best known for providing retirement benefits to Americans who have paid into the system through payroll taxes. It also runs several disability benefit programs, including SSI and SSDI. These programs have some similarities but also some important differences.
SSI provides disability benefits regardless of work history. To qualify for SSI benefits, a person must have a limited income and few assets.
Who can qualify for SSI?:
SSI payments tend to start arriving sooner than SSDI payments. Payments begin the month after one of the following, whichever occurs later:
The SSA determines how many work credits a person has based on their employment history. They earn one credit for every calendar quarter that they pay a minimum amount of Social Security taxes for wages, salary, or self-employment income. The SSA expresses this as a minimum amount of required quarterly income. The agency may adjust the amount to account for inflation. As of 2023, an individual must earn $1,640 in a quarter to earn one work credit.
Who can qualify for SSDI?:
The number of credits a person must have increases with age:
SSDI benefits are not available as quickly as SSI benefits, but they may cover a longer span of time. A five-month waiting period applies before payments begin, but the program allows back pay that covers a period of time before the application date.
Benefits may continue for as long as an SSDI recipient remains disabled. If they turn 65 while still receiving SSDI benefits, however, those benefits will stop and Social Security retirement benefits will take their place.
You can apply for both types of benefits at the same time. If approved for both programs, you can receive concurrent benefits from both SSI and SSDI. You must be very careful about how you do this, though, because of the differences between the two programs. It is important to understand the differences in each program’s eligibility criteria:
The SSA has a broad definition of “countable income” when looking at the income limits for SSI benefits. It counts many forms of unearned income toward an applicant’s total income, including SSDI benefits. The amount you receive from SSDI, therefore, might lower your SSI payment amount or make you ineligible for SSI benefits.
In terms of both average and maximum monthly payments, SSDI pays more than SSI. Keep in mind, though, that each case is unique. The amount that you might expect to receive in monthly benefits will depend on your specific circumstances.
You are subject to an income limit if you receive SSI benefits. This means that your total monthly benefit amount will be limited to the income cap for the SSI program. Despite this, applying for concurrent benefits from both SSDI and SSI can offer advantages in some situations:
The SSA can take anywhere from a few months to more than a year to review disability benefit applications. You need benefits during that time, and it is not your fault that the government is taking so long. As a result, you can get back pay from both SSDI and SSI. The details are different for each program, though.
You can receive SSDI back pay that covers the period from when you filed your application until the SSA approved it and started your monthly payments. This includes the five-month waiting period. You may also be able to get retroactive benefits that cover up to twelve months before the application date, provided you became disabled even earlier.
Back pay is simpler for SSI payments. The SSA will cover benefits payable from the date you filed your application, assuming you already met the eligibility requirements on that date. It will not pay retroactive benefits for any earlier time period.
Medicaid benefits are included with SSI. If you are approved for both SSI and SSDI, you will not lose your Medicaid coverage. Some states, however, may require you to file a new Medicaid application.
VA disability benefits will not affect an SSDI or SSI application. They are not considered countable income for SSI purposes, so they are not part of that program’s income limits.
Similarly, if you start receiving both SSDI and SSI benefits, it will not affect your eligibility for VA benefits. The monthly amount you receive from the VA will not change.
To learn more about protecting your VA benefits, schedule a free consultation today with our legal team.
When you work with an experienced Virginia disability attorney like those at Montagna Law, you have the resources of an entire law firm supporting you through the entire process. Careful preparation of an application is essential. Even a tiny error can cause major problems. You do not want to have to wait any longer for your disability benefits than is absolutely necessary.
We will go over every aspect of your claim to make sure everything is correct, complete, up-to-date, and in compliance with the latest versions of federal disability law and SSA regulations. Knowing the application rules for both types of claims can be tricky. We understand the importance of balancing the eligibility criteria for the two programs. Demonstrating that you have accrued enough work credits for SSDI requires one set of data while showing that you fall within the SSI program’s income limits requires completely different information and evidence. We will take on the challenge for you.
Our firm will do more than prepare your disability application. We will review your case to see if there are other instances where we might be able to help get you benefits. For example, suppose that your disability came about due to a car accident in which you were not at fault. This might make you eligible for certain other benefits that can provide extra support during a difficult time.
Montagna Law’s team of Virginia Social Security disability lawyers represents individuals throughout the Hampton Roads area, including Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, and Suffolk. They can help you understand your options and guide you through the disability application process. Request a free case evaluation and consultation today by calling (877) 622-8100 or completing our law firm’s online contact form.
Jon Montagna received a Bachelor of Arts in Literature from American University in Washington D.C. and graduated Cum Laude from the University of Miami School of Law in 1999. Jon practices law in the Hampton Roads Virginia area.