Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can be so complex that many people don’t realize they’re eligible for other government benefits. You may also be able to earn some extra income while receiving SSDI, provided that your earnings don’t go over a certain amount or indicate your ability to work full-time.
Here, we’ll discuss what benefits you might be able to get in addition to your SSDI.
SSDI and other Social Security benefits: What do I need to know?
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), a person cannot receive more than one benefit from the SSA at a time. If you are actually eligible for more than one benefit from Social Security, you can receive the higher benefit amount—but you can’t collect both.
For example, you may have qualified for disability benefits as well as early retirement benefits. In this case, you could expect to receive the benefit associated with the higher amount. It’s also important to consider healthcare when opting into multiple programs. Medicare is included with SSDI benefits, but not with retirement before age 65.
Once you retire, at age 67, you’ll no longer be qualified for SSDI—and you’ll begin to receive social security retirement checks and Medicare.
What about Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
People collecting Social Security Disability benefits can also collect Supplemental Security Income. This often seems confusing to people who are told they can only receive one Social Security benefit. This is easily explained: SSI is not regarded as a Social Security Benefit.
The federal and state governments founded the SSI program to ensure that disabled, elderly, and blind individuals could have a minimum income. Since it is not a Social Security benefit, people with a disability collecting SSDI benefits may still qualify for and receive SSI benefits.
Can I qualify for other disability benefits and receive those?
People can be eligible for other benefits alongside SSDI—so long as those benefits are not offered by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Alongside SSDI, you can qualify for:
Workers’ Compensation benefits and SSDI
Collecting workers’ compensation benefits and SSDI is a bit more complicated than the benefits discussed above. If you qualify, you can collect workers’ compensation benefits while also collecting SSDI. However, the total of your workers’ compensation payments may reduce the payments you receive from SSDI.
Your combined workman's compensation and SSDI payments can't be more than 80% of what your earnings were before you became disabled.
So, for example, if you made $2400.00 a month before you became disabled, your combined payment for workman's comp and SSDI could not be more than $1920.00 per month.
If you would independently receive $1000.00 per month from workman’s comp and $1000.00 a month from SSDI—your SSDI check would, instead, be capped at $920.00.
After the workers’ compensation payments stop, your SSDI benefits (if you also receive them) can be increased to the total amount.
Some states offer their own (short-term) disability benefits programs. A person may receive these benefits, typically temporary while collecting SSDI, but their SSDI benefits could be reduced while receiving the temporary state benefits. Atticus can match you with a lawyer knowledgeable about SSDI and disability benefits programs in your area—and ensure that you’re on track to get your maximum compensation.
How can I make extra money on SSDI?
People who are collecting SSDI can still earn some income. Usually, SSDI benefits recipients cannot earn more than $1,350 per month (that amount increases to $2,190 for individuals who are blind). Making more than this per month can result in the loss of SSDI benefits because the Social Security Administration will no longer consider the person unable to perform what it calls “substantial gainful work.”
But there are exceptions. People receiving SSDI Benefits may be allowed a trial work period (Ticket to Work) that allows them to make more than the amount listed above. Navigating additional work is complicated—your lawyer can answer any initial questions, and your assigned SSA agent (once you have benefits) will help you navigate the Ticket to Work program.
Another exception to the substantial gainful work amount: If you have expenses related to working with your disability, such as special equipment, you may be able to deduct their cost. These expenses might involve the purchase of a wheelchair or even an attendant's services if you cannot perform your work without them.
Family benefits and SSDI
Your family may be eligible to receive certain benefits once your SSDI benefits application is approved. Their qualification for benefits is usually related to the decrease in the family’s income related to your disability. Applying for these benefits involves a separate application that Atticus can advise you about.
If you are receiving SSDI benefits and have a child or children under 18, they could qualify for financial assistance. This assistance is meant to help support them until they complete their high school education. Children under the age of 18 may also be eligible for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or Medicaid. There are limits on income for the CHIP program, and these differ state by state.
Families who qualify can also apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. If you’re receiving SSDI benefits, you may qualify for this program based on your family income. The program provides a benefits card loaded with a prepaid amount and helps individuals buy food, providing further financial assistance.
So, you may be eligible to receive other benefits in addition to your Social Security Disability Benefits. As you can tell, there are many rules about what you may receive and how much you may receive. You never want to jeopardize your SSDI Benefits and risk losing them because you earned too much. After Atticus pairs you with an SSDI benefits lawyer, you’ll be able to get expert advice to help you understand what additional benefits you qualify for and how to apply for them. A lawyer will help you ensure you don’t make any mistakes while applying for or collecting other benefits.
FAQs about SSDI benefits and additional benefits
How can I find out if my state has a disability benefits program?
Some states, as mentioned, offer temporary disability benefits. To find out, you can contact your local unemployment office. If, for some reason, they are unable to provide you with a clear answer, you can call Atticus, and we will help you determine what your state offers.
What is the waiting period for medical benefits with SSDI?
If you receive SSDI benefits, you’ll have to wait 24 months from your program acceptance date to qualify for Medicare’s medical benefits. Your disability removes the age requirement associated with the Medicare program.
You may be eligible for continued medical coverage through your employer during the waiting period. While you can contact your employer’s HR manager for information about this coverage, you can also discuss your medical insurance situation with one of Atticus’ vetted lawyers. They can help you explore your medical insurance options during the two-year Medicare waiting period.
You may still have questions about applying and receiving benefits in addition to your SSDI benefits. Atticus can help. Fill out our brief intake quiz, and get free legal advice today.