Tuesday, March 1, 2016

SSI vs SSDI - Trying to figure it all out!

(picture from SSA) There was a meeting not to long ago regarding work and SSI & SSDI payments. Since Will collects SSI and is in a day program that tries to find jobs for their clients, like Will, I thought it would be good to attend. They started off by stating that a lot of people collecting do not like to try to work because they feel that they will lose their monthly payments and cannot survive on a part time income. The meeting was to dismiss those thoughts and explain how the two work together. The following a a quick overview - there is a lot to this so please check in with you local office for further information.

First of all let's find out what the difference is between the two. As the Social Security Administration states, SSI (Supplemental Security Income) is 'a program pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources. SSI benefits also are payable to people 65 and older without disabilities who meet the financial limits. People who have worked long enough may also be able to receive Social Security disability or retirement benefits as well as SSI'. SSDI pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are "insured," meaning that you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes. You have to apply to the Social Security Administration for both - check with your child's social worker or teacher to see if there is someone in the system who can help you do this. As Will went through the transition process in high school we were given a social worker who helped us do the forms. Monthly income gets determined through this process. Find out also, as an aside, if you also get medical benefits with the plan, like Medicare or Medicaid.

Some of the myths of what holds people back from working: it will cause my SSI payments to stop - payments may be reduced or suspended but many people continue to receive payments while working. SSA uses a formula to calculate earnings and more than half of person's gross monthly wages are excluded from calculation. There are two exclusions = SSA does not count the first $20 of a person's monthly unearned income - the balance is deducted from earned income. SSA does not count $65 of a person's earned income and half of any remaining income. There is another exclusion if needed - Impairment Related Work Expenses which covers the cost of items and services that are related to your impairment and need for work if you pay for these out-of-pocket and not reimbursed another way. These have to be approved by SSA.

As the meeting went on, the coordinator gave us examples of what happens with income as people find jobs. The following information is from our state, check with your office for your calculations but at least you will have an example. Here is an example of how SSI might work: let's say "Michaela' gets her maximum SSI payment of $733.00 plus from the federal government plus her state $39.92 = $772.92 for the month. Now she gets a job at a local store and earns $800.00 gross for the month. You take the $800.00 minus $85.00 (general and earned income exclusions) = $715.00. You divide this by 2 (2nd part of the earned income exclusion) = $357.50 of countable earned income. Now take her original $733.00 (from the government) plus the $357.50 plus $39.92 (state) plus $800.00 (gross wages) = $1215.42 total income for the month. So instead of just getting $772.92 for the month, 'Michaela' can earn $1215.42, a difference of $442.50 - that she can pocket. There are other deductions that can be taken too: the Impairment Related Work Expenses mentioned above and Blind Related Work Expenses which can cover transportation, service animal expenses, etc.


SSDI is a little different since this allows for trial work periods - 9 months, substantial gainful activity - significant physical or mental work of both & work done for pay or profit, and 36 months after the Trial Work Period comes the Extended Period of Eligibility - which is a safety net for your SSDI payments.


Talk to your local SSA office or social worker to discuss which is the better way to go. They can help you figure how each will impact you financially. This is just a quick overview so please take the time to speak with an SSA staff person or social worker.

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Grandma’s Pearls of Wisdom:
(picture from Caregivers Blog)

I’ve traveled paths you’ve yet to walk
Learned lessons old and new
And now this wisdom of my life
I’m blessed to share with you
Let kindness spread like sunshine
Embrace those who are sad
Respect their dignity, give them joy
And leave them feeling glad
Forgive those who might hurt you
And though you have your pride
Listen closely to their viewpoint
Try to see the other side
Walk softly when you’re angry
Try not to take offense
Invoke your sense of humor
Laughter’s power is immense!
Express what you are feeling
Your beliefs you should uphold
Don’t shy away from what is right
Be courageous and be bold
Keep hope right in your pocket
It will guide you day by day
Take it out when it is needed
When it’s near, you’ll find a way
Remember friends and family
Of which you are a precious part
Love deeply and love truly
Give freely from your heart
The world is far from perfect
There’s conflict and there’s strife
But you still can make a difference
By how you live your life
And so I’m very blessed to know
The wonders you will do
Because you are my granddaughter
And I believe in you.

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