You have worked all your life and have paid into the Social Security system the whole time. You also have other benefits and are eligible for other assistance programs. Now that you are disabled and unable to work, you may be wondering whether you can collect from multiple benefit programs at the same time. This is an excellent question. The simple answer is—it depends. We will explain the restrictions for each program below, but, in general, you can collect Social Security disability and benefits from other programs as long as you are eligible and the combination of payments does not exceed federal maximums. We take a look at some common benefit programs here.
If you were injured on the job, you will likely be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ comp is an insurance program your employer is required by law to carry. Your medical expenses, wages, and other losses are covered regardless of the cause of the accident. If your work injury results in a disability that lasts for more than a year, you may also be eligible for Social Security disability. Because workers’ comp is designed to be temporary, it can be a good source of income while you are waiting to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and as you wait for a decision on your application. Once you are approved for SSDI, however, if your workers’ comp benefits continue, the combination of the two payments cannot exceed 80 percent of your average earnings before your disability. If the payments do exceed 80 percent, your SSDI payment will be reduced to bring your total to an acceptable level.
In general, it is not a good idea to seek both unemployment benefits and SSDI because they are intended for different purposes. In order to qualify for unemployment benefits, you must be actively seeking employment. When applying for SSDI benefits, you are saying that you have been unable to work for the previous 12 months due to a disability. This contradiction could negatively affect your eligibility for both benefits. There may be a unique situation that applies to you, but you should consult a Social Security disability attorney before attempting to collect both benefits.
If you are a veteran who was injured in the course of military duty, you may collect veterans’ disability and continue to work and collect an income. If you later suffer another injury or illness that renders you unable to continue working and you have paid enough into the Social Security system, you may also be eligible to collect Social Security disability. These are two distinct programs that do not consider financial need for eligibility, so it is entirely possible to collect both.
Supplemental Security Income
While SSDI eligibility is based on your work history and disability, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is based on financial need. You may have suffered a debilitating illness or injury after having worked for many years, which would make you eligible for SSDI, and also have limited assets and no additional income, which could qualify you for SSI. In that way, you could collect from both programs. However, the combined payments cannot exceed the maximum SSI payment ($750 per month for an individual in 2018).
You may collect on any private insurance policy you have without it affecting your eligibility for disability. SSDI is not need-based, so having another source of income does not disqualify you from collecting, as long as the income is not derived from working.
An SSDI Lawyer Can Help You Navigate Multiple Benefits
If you think you may be eligible for more than one benefit program, contact the New Mexico SSDI attorneys at Keller & Keller to discuss your options. Our attorneys understand the requirements for the various benefits programs and will help you make the best decision for your unique situation. The disability application process can be complicated enough on its own. When you try to simultaneously seek other benefits, you could compromise your application. Contact us today to learn more.