In Special Needs News

Senior woman aids adult daughter who walks with a walker outdoors.Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal benefits program. Through SSDI, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides monthly monetary support for those who can no longer work because of long-term or permanent disabilities.

Social Security Disability Benefits

While SSDI can be an essential source of income for many individuals and families, it may only cover some needs. The SSA reports that, in February 2023, the average monthly benefit was $1,686. If you receive SSDI, you may need financial support beyond this. Fortunately, as an SSDI recipient, you or your loved ones may be able to access additional benefits.

Family Benefits

When you receive SSDI benefits, your family members can also benefit from your work record.

Family members who could obtain benefits include:

  • Spouse
  • Divorced spouse
  • Children
  • Adult children who became disabled before the age of 22

Each of these individuals may be able to receive up to 50 percent of your award. The SSA, however, caps the total amount your family as a whole can receive to between 150 percent and 180 percent of the total award. If your divorced spouse receives benefits through your work record, it will not affect your total family cap.

Health Insurance

As an SSDI recipient, you can obtain health insurance coverage through Medicare. After a two-year waiting period, you can enroll in this program. You can receive Part A hospital insurance, Part B medical insurance, and Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage.

The SSA deducts Medicare premiums from your monthly benefit. During the two-year waiting period, you may be able to get other health insurance coverage, such as from your employer.

Tax Benefits

Tax benefits are available when you receive SSDI. If your income is below the threshold, your SSDI payments are generally tax-free. According to the SSA, your SSDI payments are not taxed if your annual income is less than $25,000 (for an individual). For couples, the threshold is an annual income of $32,000.

You may have to pay taxes on your SSDI if you have additional income that increases your total income beyond the SSA’s threshold. For example:

  • Singles with an income between $25,000 and $34,000 may have to pay federal income tax on up to 50 percent of their benefits.
  • Couples with income between $32,000 and $44,000 may owe taxes on up to 50 percent of their SSDI payments.
  • Individuals earning over $34,000 pay taxes on up to 85 percent of their SSDI benefits.
  • Married couples with income that is more than $44,000 may be taxed on up to 85 percent of their SSDI benefits.

Survivor Benefits

If you are fully insured, survivor benefits are also available to certain family members when you pass away. For example:

  • Your surviving spouse, depending on their age, could receive benefits. Qualifying disabled widows and widowers can also enroll in Medicare.
  • Those who take care of their deceased spouse’s child who is under 16 or is disabled could get parental benefits.
  • Divorced spouses married over 10 years who have not remarried can also receive survivor benefits.
  • Children who are under 18 or children under 19 going to elementary or secondary school full time, and adult children with disabilities whose disability began before turning 22 may qualify for survivor benefits through your work record.

Can You Get SSI and SSDI?

If you have limited income and assets, you could also qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in addition to Social Security Disability Insurance. The SSA calls this concurrent eligibility.

SSI provides supplemental income to certain populations with limited means, including older adults and people with disabilities. The majority of SSI recipients qualify because of severe disabilities, including blindness, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Generally, to qualify for SSI, an individual must have, at most, $2,000 in assets ($3,000 for couples).

In 2023, the federal benefit rate is $914 per month for a single person and $1,371 for a couple. Some states supplement this benefit, increasing the amount. Depending on your state, the amount could be higher.

When you have another source of income, the SSA reduces your SSI benefit. Receiving Social Security benefits could lower your SSI award.

Special Needs Planning Attorney

The rules governing Social Security Disability Insurance payments and related benefits can be complex. For assistance maximizing your benefits as an SSDI recipient, consult with a special needs planning attorney near you.

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