Social Security Benefits for Mississippi Injury Victims
Suffering a disability, whether as the result of an acute accident that results in injury or as the result of a serious medical condition, can be a devastating experience. Not only is the disability often an immediate setback that limits a person’s ability to engage in the things that they love the most, but it may also mean that the person is prevented from being able to work long-term.
For those who suffer from certain long-term disabilities and are unable to work as a result, Social Security disability benefits may be available. These types of benefits give recipients monthly payments that are designed to provide financial relief to disabled individuals and their families.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains two types of disability benefit programs: Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, and Supplemental Security Income, or SSI. The program that people tend to be most familiar with is SSDI.
SSDI benefits are designed for those who are both disabled and unable to work and who have paid into the Social Security system during their working years and have earned ‘work credits’ as a result. Under this system, benefits are paid to the injured person via the Disability Insurance Trust Fund. In the Biloxi area, our SSD attorneys can help you obtain the maximum amount of social security benefits available to you.
Qualifying for SSDI Benefits
1) Your condition meets the definition of ‘disability’ set forth by the SSA.
2) You are unable to do the work that you did previously or adjust to new work.
3) You have enough earned work credits.
First, defining disability. The SSA defines a disability as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity as a result of a physical or mental impairment for a period of time that has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death. If you have a disability that is listed in the SSA’s Blue Book listing of impairments, then your condition automatically meets these criteria. If your specific condition is not listed in the Blue Book (as is the case with most individuals who apply), you can still qualify for benefits as long as you meet the definition for disability listed above and can show evidence that you are unable to do the work you did previously or adjust to new work.
The amount of work credits that you need in order to qualify depends on your age at the time that you become disabled. Typically, a person will need at least 40 credits, 20 of which must have been earned in the 10-year period immediately prior to your disability. Sometimes, however, a younger person can still qualify for benefits with fewer credits.
While both the SSDI and the SSI program offer disability benefits to those who are not working, Supplemental Security Income benefits are based on a person’s income and resources, not earned work credits. As such, these benefits are available to both adults and children. In order to qualify for SSI benefits, a person must:
- Be aged (65 years of age or above);
- Be blind; or
- Be disabled; and
- Have limited income;
- Have limited resources; and
- Be a U.S. citizen or national or alien eligible for benefits.
The definition for ‘disability’ for SSI benefits is nearly identical to the one for SSDI benefits, although the ability to perform substantial gainful activity is removed (remember, children are eligible for these benefits, too). Instead of impairing a person’s ability to perform substantial gainful activity, a condition, for the purpose of SSI benefits, is considered disabling if it:
- Results in marked and severe functional limitations; and
- Is expected to last for at least 12 consecutive months; or
- Is expected to result in death.
What Does the SSA Mean By ‘Limited Income and Resources?’
A person who makes over a certain amount of money per month, or has a certain value of assets and resources, will be barred from receiving SSI benefits, even if they are disabled. For the purposes of determining income, the SSA considers an individual’s paycheck income, any free benefits the person is receiving, such as free food, and other sources of income, such as workers’ compensation benefits.
In terms of resources, the SSA will consider the assets owned by a person in calculating the value of resources, including money in a bank accounts, cash, a home, a vehicle, personal property, and more. However, note that not all resources are counted for SSI determination.
The 2018 edition of the SSA publication, Understanding Supplemental Security Income SSI Eligibility Requirements, explains that the resource limit for an individual and a child is $2,000; for a couple the amount is $3,000.
Qualifying for Both SSDI and SSI Benefits Simultaneously
There are some cases where a person may qualify for both SSDI benefits and SSI benefits simultaneously. For example, if a person is of limited income and resources, but has also paid into disability insurance through the SSA and has earned work credits as a result, they may be eligible for both benefit types. When a person is receiving both benefit types at the same time, it is called concurrent benefits. If you think you may be eligible for concurrent benefits, discuss the matter with your lawyer, who can help you to understand how payment of these benefits may work.
Applying for SSD & SSI Benefits
Applications for Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income benefits are submitted to the federal government. The first two requirements that must be met are referred to as “earnings” requirements. One is a “recent work” test, which is based on age at the time of disability, and the other is a “duration of work” test, which determines if you worked long enough under Social Security. If you meet the earnings requirements, the federal government will send your application to a Disability Determination Services office here in Mississippi.
Once your application is at the state level, a Mississippi disability agent and/or doctor will evaluate your medical condition to determine if it qualifies as a disability. Factors they will look at include:
- Ways in which the condition limits your activities
- Medical test results
- Treatment you have received or are receiving
- The severity of your impairment
- Whether you are currently working
- Whether you can do the same work as before you became impaired
- Your ability to do any other type of work
In order to gain maximum benefits from Social Security Disability Insurance, it is important to work with an attorney who has proven success and experience handling SSD claims. Legal advice and counsel will give your claim a strong foundation and help ensure you file a complete, organized, and successful claim. While common Social Security questions may seem straightforward, they can be overwhelming, and it’s definitely not in your best interest to rush through your claim. At a minimum, you will be asked the following:
- Are you working?
- Do you have a severe medical condition?
- Can you list what impairments you have now?
- Can you do the work you could do prior to your accident?
- Can you perform a similar type of work?
- What is the exact nature of your claim and when did it begin?
- What have medical tests proven?
- What treatments did you receive?
- What treatments are you currently receiving?
At the Gardner Law Firm, our goal is to provide you with clear guidance so that you can give thorough, on-point answers to these questions. We will help you fill out all necessary forms and obtain any supporting documentation you need to help substantiate your claim.
Talk to a Social Security Lawyer Today!
If you have suffered an accident or injury, the Gardner Law Firm can assist you in every aspect of recovery, from handling personal injury claims against insurance companies and at-fault parities to helping you receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits from the federal government. Give us a call or contact us online for a free initial consultation with one of our attorneys in Biloxi, Pascagoula, or Hattiesburg. We also offer live chat to answer your immediate questions.