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SSA Disability Benefits - Are they provided by both the state and federal government?

Disability benefits and the Federal and State Governments

Recently on our disability forum we had a disability applicant ask if SSA disability benefits were offered by both the state and the federal government. This is a good question, but with all disability questions it’s a bit complicated.

The Federal Government provides disability benefits through two programs: the Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.

Social Security Disability Insurance is only available for workers who have worked and paid into the SSA system through their employment taxes and have earned enough work credits to be considered “insured” by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Workers who do not have enough work credits will be automatically denied for SSDI disability benefits. Additionally, workers must have a severe mental or physical health condition which does not allow them to perform work for at least 12 continuous months.

The SSA does not offer any partial or temporary disability benefits. If you work too much or make too much money you will be automatically denied, regardless of the current severity of your condition. SSDI benefits may also be paid to the widow, widowers and children of insured and disabled workers.

Supplemental Security Income is offered by the SSA to the aged (65 years or older), blind or disabled who are not considered "insured" by the Federal Government but who need cash assistance to meet their minimum monthly expenses. SSI is offered to claimants who have not worked or who have not earned enough work credits. The caveat is that SSA claimants must have VERY limited income and resources to qualify, regardless of the severity of their health condition.

What SSA disability benefits are offered by the state?

SSDI disability benefits are completely funded by the Federal Government and are not offered by the states. What about SSI? There may be some confusion about the Supplemental Security Income program because although the Federal Government offers the bulk of the SSI payment (currently $710 per qualifying individual) some states do offer what is called a “state supplemental payment.” The state supplemental payment is paid in addition to the $710 (which is called the federal benefit payment).

Whether or not your state adds a supplemental payment or administers its own supplemental payment separate from the SSA depends on your state. For instance, every state except Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia currently pays a state supplement to its disabled residents who receive SSI.

In New York, for example:

“The state of New York adds money to the federal payment. The state of New York may also consider the county or borough where you reside when determining how much to supplement your SSI payments. Additionally, the state of New York considers whether you reside in congregate care, also known as group home or adult foster care, when determining how much to supplement your SSI payments. The single payment you get in the beginning of each month includes both the federal SSI payment and your supplement from New York.”

If you have been approved for SSI you can talk to the SSA by calling 1-800-772-1213 or you can review the information they will send to you to find out the amount of payments you can expect from the SSA and your state.
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