The Law Office of James P. Shea - Exclusively Dedicated to the Practice of Social Security Disability and SSI Law
Programs Administered by the Social Security Administration
The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers three distinct benefit programs.
The first program, with which almost everyone is familiar, is SSA's retirement program for workers who are over age 65 (if born before 1942, gradually rising for persons born after that), with 80% of full retirement benefits available to the worker at age 62. While workers' compensation benefits may produce an offset (or reduction) of an individual's Social Security Disability benefits, no such reduction is applied to Social Security Retirement benefits.
CAVEAT: If an individual is also eligible for Long-Term Disability (LTD) benefits from a private insurance carrier, LTD benefits may be reduced for receipt of early retirement benefits, and an individual on LTD should generally NOT apply for early (age 62) retirement benefits. An individual receives Medicare at age 65, but not at age 62.
SSA also administers two types of disability programs. The first is the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, administered under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (effectively a federal welfare program for aged and disabled individuals who must meet strict need and income/resource tests). In California, a needy individual who is receiving no other benefits may receive up to approximately $950.00 from S.S.I. In addition, S.S.I. recipients are immediately eligible to receive Medi-cal benefits (stickers) for medical treatment.
The second disability-based program which Social Security administers is authorized by Title II of the Social Security Act, and is called the Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) program. Both SSI recipients and DIB recipients must meet the same medical definition of the term "disability." The DIB program, however, differs from the SSI program in two important non-medical ways: First, the DIB program does not take into consideration the claimant's financial status, whereas the SSI program requires claimants to show significant financial need. Second, a successful DIB claimant must have worked long enough to become eligible (at age 62 or at full retirement age) for retirement benefits, and must also have sufficient work in the recent past to be considered "fully insured" by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Generally, to meet this requirement an individual must have worked five out of the previous ten years before disability commenced in "covered employment" (employment for which Social Security taxes were taken out of the individual's paycheck).
Importantly, some individuals (particularly low wage earners) may be entitled to both Social Security Disability and S.S.I. benefits. As of 2012, the two checks may equal up to approximately $970.00 per month in California. Individuals entitled to DIB benefits are also eligible to receive Medicare medical insurance, but not immediately. Such persons become eligible for Medicare in the 25th month following the first month for which they receive DIB benefits.