In the estate planning field, we often help clients that have concerns about eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This will usually be a factor when someone wants to provide for a loved one with special needs.
There is another program that is similar in many ways called Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The fact that it is a source of income for people that are disabled is self-apparent, but this program is separate from SSI. Let’s look at the differences between them.
Supplemental Security Income
To be eligible for Supplemental Security Income, in a general sense, there is no particular age requirement, but it is only available to people with little to no resources. This benefit is earmarked for blind and disabled individuals, but someone that is not disabled that is 65 or older could qualify.
At the time of this writing in 2019, the maximum monthly SSI benefit is $771, and it is $1,157 for a couple. It is possibly to be eligible and receive less if exclusions are extracted from the benefit.
While we are on the subject, it is only prudent to explain why this program is intertwined into the estate planning field as we touched upon in the opening.
People that qualify for SSI are automatically eligible for Medicaid, so they go hand-in-hand. Many folks with disabilities that cannot work are heavily reliant on these programs. A loss of eligibility could be catastrophic, but remember, eligibility is based on financial need. An inheritance could trigger a loss of eligibility, and this presents a challenge.
The widely embraced estate planning solution is a legal device called a supplemental needs trust.
We will provide in-depth details at another time, but suffice to say that the trustee could use assets that are in the trust to make the disabled beneficiary more comfortable in certain ways. As long as the program rules are not violated, eligibility for Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income would remain intact.
Social Security Disability Insurance
When you pay FICA or self-employment taxes when you are working, you earn retirement credits that allow you to qualify for Social Security and Medicare when you reach the eligibility age. You can earn a maximum of four credits per year, and once you have 40 credits, you will qualify for these benefits.
The above being stated, if you become disabled and unable to work after paying these taxes throughout your career, you could potentially qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance at any adult age. Because you essentially earned eligibility by paying taxes, there is no asset limit at all.
If you were to qualify for SSDI, the amount that you receive would be tied to your work history. During the current calendar year, the average has been $1234 a month, and the maximum is $2,788. You can also earn as much as $1220 a month while you are receiving the benefit, and there is no limit on unearned income (your spouse’s income, investment dividends, interest, etc.)
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Our attorneys are holding a number of seminars over the coming weeks that will cover many different important elder law and estate planning topics. People that attend these sessions give us very positive feedback, and this is gratifying, because we make the effort to help people protect their legacies.
You can really learn a lot if you attend one of these sessions, and best of all, there is no admission charge at all. That’s right, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose, so there is no reason not to take advantage of the opportunity to build on your knowledge.
Though there is no expense involved, we ask that you register in advance so that we can reserve a great seat for you. Take a moment to visit our seminar schedule page to check out the dates, and click on the one that works for you and follow the simple instructions to register.
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