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A Closer Look at Social Security Disability Benefits and Supplemental Security Income for Pennsylvania Residents

Social Security Disability (SSD), sometimes called Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), benefits apply to workers who have paid taxes long enough to have contributed to the Social Security system. They must have become disabled for reasons other than an on-the-job injury. Workers’ compensation benefits serve to cover these work-related injuries.

An individual can only pay into the system by working enough fiscal quarters right before becoming disabled. This allows them to earn enough quarterly credits to qualify for SSD. It can be difficult or nearly impossible to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits as a disabled child, senior citizen, or blind person because these members of society may not have worked, or if they have, it may not have been long enough or recently enough to have paid into the system. For these individuals, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits provide an opportunity to recover payments, although they are often less than those of SSD benefits.

The complications of determining if you have earned enough quarterly credits to qualify for Social Security Disability require examining your actual work history. Since the goal of a Social Security Disability claim is to show the government that you are unable to work, medical evidence is necessary to document that you cannot perform a job. It is also important, moreover, to show other evidence of how the disability interferes with your capacity to function at work. Showing that you made an attempt to work, despite your medical challenges, strengthens your claim.

Ways to show that your disability prevented you from doing the work you could otherwise perform might include demonstrating that your work history became spotty after the onset of your medical issues. Maybe you switched jobs after you found you could not perform the duties of your old position. Perhaps your attendance at work diminished due to chronic pain. This type of evidence adds to your credibility and makes it more likely that the Social Security Administration will grant you the benefits you need.

In the case that you have not earned enough quarterly credits to qualify for Social Security Disability insurance benefits, you may be able to pursue Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. These are often less than SSD benefits, but the income guidelines provide for different sources of income to be considered in the ultimate calculation.

For purposes of SSI, it is total household income that determines eligibility. This is significant, since it means it can include a spouse’s income. Variations do exist regarding how spousal income is applied.

A disabled child who has applied for Supplemental Security Income benefits may include parental income in determining whether the child resides in a qualifying low-income household.

Remember that many applications for SSD and SSI are initially turned down. You may request a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. At that time, you can present further evidence in support of your claim.

The attorneys at Needle Law have the Social Security knowledge and experience you need in filing your claim for benefits. We can help you present your case in a strong manner so that the process is more likely to go smoothly. If you or a family member needs assistance with a claim, call our office today at (570) 344-1266.

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