Most people think of Social Security as a retirement fund that you can’t access until you’re 65. The truth is, Social Security exists to protect people in situations where they cannot work. This includes cases of severe illness and injury as well as long-term or permanent disability. Knowing the situations in which you qualify is the first step on your road to recovery and getting your life back. Read about how and when you can apply for SSDI or SSI, and how social security in South Carolina can be a saving grace when you face a disabling condition.
Social Security in South Carolina
Social security insurance is available to all citizens and legal residents of the United States, and comes in the form of two benefits:
- SSDI, or Social Security Disability Insurance, is open to those individuals who are disabled and have a set number of years under their belt in the workforce.
- SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, is available to those people who are elderly or disabled and who have very low assets and income levels.
Officially known as the OASDI, or Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance Program, SSDI is there to help people who face a disabling condition. SSI is not part of this program, but provides similar benefits for those who qualify.
Social Security Disability (SSDI)
There are two elements that must be in place for a person to qualify for SSDI. First, you must have a qualifying disability. Secondly, you must have a number of years of active work registered with the Social Security agency. The qualifying number of years depends on your age and when you became disabled. At minimum you have to have at least five of the past ten years with working hours.
On average, those who successfully apply for SSDI gain around $1,000 per month. If you were in a higher earning occupation and paid a higher FICA tax rate, you may get more. After you pass 2 years of disability benefits, you can then sign up for Medicare. If you have low income before that point, you may be eligible for Medicaid.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
This program is run by the Social Security Administration, as a partnership with your state government. This means that eligibility depends on your state regulations. There are four universal criteria:
- You must be at least age 65, or you must be disabled or blind;
- You must be a citizen or legal permanent resident who meets strict requirements;
- You must be financially disadvantaged—your monthly income below a set amount determined by the state;
- You must own property (minus home, car and the like) of a value less than $2,000 ($3,000 for couples).
SSA benefits, if you qualify, are usually around $733 per month, or $1,100 for a couple, minus a portion of your income.
For social security in South Carolina, there is also a supplementary benefit that some residents can collect. If you are in a licensed facility for long-term care, you can receive additional funds of up to $483. This can raise the total benefits in our state to $1181 for a single person or $1531 for a couple.
There is a lot of room for interpretation when it comes to defining disability. You must be able to demonstrate that your physical or mental condition prevents you from performing meaningful and substantial work for at least a year. Even if your doctor advises you not to work, you might still have to argue your case.
The SSA applies its own examiners and medical experts to determine eligibility, and may deny your initial application. On the up side, many people have a good chance of winning benefits on appeal. It is a good idea, however, to have representation from a qualified disability attorney.
If you are facing a situation where you have lost a spouse or are otherwise physically or mentally disabled, you don’t have to go through it alone. Read a bit more about our social security representation, and get in touch with us for a free consultation of your case today.