Roughly 70 million people are able to receive assistance thanks to the Social Security Administration (SSA). Even though most people don’t start thinking about Social Security benefits until they are older, it is important to have a clear understanding as soon as possible. That’s because each support opportunity they provide can help a person dealing with a specific situation.
Different SSA Programs
A lot of the programs are similar which can make it hard to clearly understand these opportunities. That is why this article will go over three popular programs that the SSA offers! The three popular programs are:
- Social Security Retirement Benefits
- Social Security Disability Insurance
- Supplemental Security Income
Social Security Retirement Benefits
Most people are familiar with Social Security retirement benefits. These benefits will replace a part of an individual’s pre-retirement income. The replacement amount depends on an individual’s largest 35 years of earnings. The specific amount of benefits that a person can receive will vary on a variety of factors. One of the biggest factors is age. That’s because an individual can only begin getting these benefits once they turn 62 years old.
In order to benefit from this assistance, a person will need to work and pay Social Security taxes. Once a person does this, they are able to earn “credits”. These credits will go towards how much benefits a person can get. The specific number of credits that a person will need to qualify for this assistance depends on the year that they were born. For example, anyone born after 1929 will need a minimum of 40 credits. Generally, this translates to about 10 years of work.
If you stop working before you have enough credits, you are still in luck. That’s because the credits that you earn will remain on your Social Security record. If you do decide to return to work later, you have the chance to have more credits added. You will need to reach the minimum of 40 credits (if you were born after 1929) in order to benefit from this assistance opportunity.
How Much Can You Get?
The amount you will get depends on a variety of different factors. However, the maximum benefit for 2023 is $4,194. There are ways that an individual can maximize their benefit! Some ways to maximize the amount you can get from this assistance opportunity includes:
- Retire when you are 70
- Make the highest taxable income
- Have at least 35 years of qualifying work history
What to Know About Earnings?
Generally, Social Security earnings are calculated the same for a majority of workers in the United States. However, there may be some additional rules depending on the type of earnings. Some earnings that have special rules include:
- Farm Work
- Federal Government Employment
- Household Employment
- Military Service
- Nonprofit or Religious Organizations
- Railroad Earnings
- State And Local Government Employment Wages
- Work Outside The United States
What Will the Application Process Look Like?
You can apply online, over the phone, or in person. You can expect to provide information about you. This would include details like your:
- Date of birth
- Place of birth
- Social security number
- Children’s names
- Financial information
- Work information
Another assistance opportunity for people is SSDI. This is an opportunity that can help insured individuals that have an eligible work history and qualifying disability. Eligible family members may also be able to receive benefits from this support opportunity. Eligible family members include:
- Divorced Spouses
- Disabled Children Up Until 22 Years Old
How to Qualify for SSDI?
If you want to get benefits from SSDI then there are some qualifications you need to meet. That’s because this support opportunity is designed for individuals that have a qualifying disability that makes it impossible for them to continue working. In this case, a person would basically need to retire early due to their condition. That is why work history also plays a role in eligibility. The two main factors of eligibility are if a person:
- Has worked in job that Social Security covers
- Has a medical condition that meets the SSA’s definition of disability.
If a person begins receiving benefits from SSDI, they will do so until they reach the full retirement age (FRA). At which point, their SSDI benefits will convert to the standard Social Security retirement benefits that we were talking about above.
What is the Definition of Disability According to the SSA?
The SSA will look at 5 questions when determining if an individual’s disability qualifies. The 5 questions are:
- Is the Person Working?
- Does the Person Have a “Severe” Condition?
- Is the Condition Listed on the SSA’s List of Medical Conditions?
- Does the Person’s Condition Make it Impossible to Do Work That Was Done Previously?
- Is It Possible to Do Any Other Type of Work?
How Much Can You Get from SSDI?
The maximum SSDI benefit is $3,627 for 2023. However, it is hard for people to get that maximum amount. Which is why on average the typical SSDI payment is $1,483 for 2023. It’s a common misconception that the amount that a person will get depends on the severity of their disability. Instead, the benefit amount will depend on a calculation that uses a person’s covered earnings over a period of time. This amount is known as your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME).
What’s the Application Process Look Like?
It’s important to remember that the specific application process can vary by state. However in general the application process will look something like this (regardless of whether you do it by phone, in person, or online):
- You will need to get together relevant information and documentation to apply. You will want to review the Adult Disability Checklist.
- Once you get your documentation together you will complete your application.
- After your application is complete you will submit it.
- Once you submit your application the SSA will review it to make sure you meet the minimum requirements for disability benefits. They also consider your work history and any current work activities.
- Afterwards the SSA will process your application and forward your case file to the Disability Determination Services office for your state.
- Once your state’s Disability Determination office receives this information, they will make a decision.
Finally, on this list of SSA programs is SSI. Individuals that can benefit from this assistance need to be 65 years old and in financial need. However, an individual can be younger than 65 years old if they have a qualifying disability and are in financial need. Even though this is another program opportunity that may be able to help individuals with a disability, it is important to remember that it’s completely separate from SSDI. This program does share some similarities with SSDI. That’s because the medical requirements are the same. In fact, a person may be able to get SSI and SSDI at the same time!
How Much Can You Get from SSI?
This program has a far lower maximum benefit than the other options on this list. For 2023 the maximum amount that a person could get from this program is:
- $914 a month for an eligible individual
- $458 a month for an eligible essential person
- $1,371 a month for an eligible couple
What’s the Application Process Look Like?
If you have a disability and are applying for SSI the application will look similar to SSDI. However, it will depend on your specific circumstance. For example, if you are applying for SSI and do not have a disability then you will not need to worry about providing that information or meeting disability requirements. It is important to make sure you review the basic requirements that come along with SSI eligibility to see if you may be able to benefit.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a variety of programs that can help people in need. Each opportunity has its own set of eligibility requirements and program benefits. It’s also important to remember that it can vary by state. The best way to get detailed, up-to-date, accurate information is by getting in touch with your local Social Security office. They can provide resources you need to better understand what assistance is available.