As has been discussed on this blog, most of our clients have claims for Disability Insurance Benefits and/or Supplemental Security Income. Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB")are based on your work history and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") is a needs-based program. If you are non-medically eligible (that is, you've paid in enough money to be covered under DIB and your household assets are low enough for SSI), Social Security will typically put in claims for both types of benefits when you apply. The medical requirements for both claims are identical. That means that if you are found medically disabled under Social Security's Rules and Regulations, you are medically eligible for both types of benefits. So why don't you always get two checks?
The answer all hinges on how much your monthly DIB payment is. As mentioned earlier, SSI is needs-based and is affected by your monthly income and assets. Once you start receiving DIB, it counts as income. In 2011, the most you can get in SSI benefits each month is $674 (this can be reduced, but that is a different topic). That means that if you are receiving more than $674 per month in Disability Insurance Benefits, Social Security is only going to pay you that one, higher check. On the other hand, the opposite is also true - if your Disability Insurance Benefits payment is less than $674, SSI may come in a supplement your disability and you could receive two checks, the total of which will not be higher than $694 per month. Note that this is for the calendar year 2011. These amounts can change if there is a cost of living adjustment.
These are just the general rules, there are other rules that Social Security follows when they are determining your monthly amount. Your local SSA office will contact you following your fully favorable decision in order to gather financial information to calculate your SSI. Your DIB payments will be calculated bya regional or nationalpayment center that may not be in the city where you reside. If you have questions about the types of benefits you are eligible for, an experienced Social Security Disability attorney can help you navigate these issues.