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Supplemental Security Income Most Common Questions Part 1

If you have applied for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or you have considered it, you most likely have questions. Can I get SSDI instead? How long does it take to get SSI benefits? How much can I expect to receive each month? In this blog we will discuss each of these common Supplemental Security Income questions.

 1.    Can I get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) instead of Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

This is the most common question our forum receives about SSI benefits and the answer is generally no. Why? Because if you have been awarded Supplemental Security Income the Social Security Administration agrees that you are disabled, but they have evaluated your work history and determined you did not have enough work credits for Social Security Disability Insurance.

What does this mean? You either worked in the past but it has been too long ago and you are no longer insured, you have not worked or you have worked but you did pay employment taxes. To find out for sure you will have to contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) or review your most recent Statement of Earnings that the SSA sends to you each year. The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not provide extra copies to applicants at this time due to budget constraints, but they do have a benefit estimator calculator on their website that you can reference for more information.

2.    How long does it take to get Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Whether you apply for SSI or SSDI there is a good chance that you will have to wait months to get benefits. Yes, some claimants are approved immediately or are eligible for some type of payment while the Social Security Administration (SSA) makes their disability decision, but most claimants have to wait in “line” as the Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates thousands of applications.

If you meet the nonmedical requirements of SSI (your condition is expected to last for 12 continuous months, your income and resource level is limited, and you are not working at a substantial level) the SSA will have to request medical records from your treating sources. Some claimants, who do not have sufficient medical records, will have to be sent to a consultative examiner, adding weeks onto their wait time.

Ideally, your claim would be approved the first time you apply, but if not you might have to appeal your claim multiple times and it could take months to be approved. Some claimants will never be approved, regardless of whether or not they file multiple times or make multiple appeals.

 3.    How much will my Supplemental Security Income payment be each month?

Unlike Social Security Disability Insurance where the benefit payment is based on the average earnings and contributions of the worker, SSI is based on the Federal Benefit Rate. The amount paid in 2012 for a qualifying individual is $698 and for an individual with an eligible spouse they can receive $1048.

The story can get a bit more complicated. If you are working or if your spouse is working the amount you are eligible to receive can be reduced. Additionally, if you are living with someone providing food and shelter, the amount you receive can be reduced.

Some states also add a supplemental payment so the state you live in can also change your Supplemental Security Income payment.
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