Social Security Eligibility

Social Security Eligibility in Boston

You may qualify for certain social security benefits if you are disabled and cannot work. Boston social security lawyer Michael O. Smith can help you get the benefits you need if you have a disability. Mr. Smith has helped clients obtain social security disability income and supplemental security income benefits, even after their claims were initially denied. He can review your case and discuss your eligibility for benefits with you. Contact us to see how we can help you.

Eligibility for SSDI

If you become disabled, you may qualify for social security disability insurance (SSDI). SSDI is for individuals who meet certain work history requirements, and who have paid social security taxes.

To qualify for SSDI, you must:

  • Be under age 65;
  • Have enough work history to qualify, and have paid into social security; and
  • Have a disability that is expected to last at least 12 months.
You will begin to receive benefits starting on the sixth month your disability began. If the Social Security Administration (Administration) determines you qualify for SSDI benefits, you will receive a monthly financial benefit based on your average lifetime earnings for the duration of your disability.

You may also qualify for supplemental security income (SSI), depending on your financial need. You may qualify for SSI even if you do not meet the requirements for SSDI benefits.

Eligibility for SSI

SSI provides financial assistance to individuals who are disabled, blind, or over age 65. Unlike SSDI, SSI is not based on how long you worked or whether you paid social security taxes. You must, however, meet the federal definition of disabled to qualify.

In addition to being disabled, your eligibility for SSI benefits is contingent on your:

Income, including your wages, SSDI benefit, and pensions Resources, such as any real estate or bank accounts Citizenship status, though some noncitizen residents may qualify

If your application for SSI benefits is approved, you will receive a monthly benefit check in an amount set forth by the government. This amount is adjusted each year for cost-of-living increases.

In addition to SSI, certain states provide a supplemental financial benefit. Under the State Supplement Program, Massachusetts provides its qualifying residents with additional financial assistance. If you qualify, you will receive two separate checks each month – one from the federal government and one from the state.

What is a “Disability”?

If you are applying for SSDI benefits, or for SSI benefits based on a disability, you must meet the Administration’s definition of disabled. The state’s Disability Determination Services office decides whether you meet this definition through a set of five questions:

  • Are you working? If so, are you engaged in substantial gainful activity?
  • Is your condition so severe that it limits your ability to do basic work activities for at least one year?
  • Do you have a condition on the list of impairments, or is your condition as severe as those listed?
  • Can you perform the work you did before you became disabled?
  • Can you do any other type of work despite your disability?
  • It is up to you keep the Administration updated on any changes in your condition, including improvements in your condition or if you begin working.
  • Dependents

Dependents of SSI recipients are not entitled to any benefits. If you qualify for SSDI, however, some of your dependents may potentially qualify for benefits. Each of your dependents that qualify can receive up to fifty percent of your benefit amount. The entire family benefit is capped at anywhere between 150 to 180 percent of your monthly benefit rate.

Maintaining Your Eligibility

The Administration periodically reviews cases to ensure recipients remain eligible for benefits. How frequently it reviews your case will depend on whether the Administration expects your disability to improve. If it expects improvement, your case can be reviewed as early as six months from when you begin receiving benefits.

Experience You Can Count On

Michael O. Smith is a Boston social security attorney with substantial experience representing individuals in social security claims. Mr. Smith can answer your eligibility questions and explain the claims process. If you applied for benefits and were denied, he can initiate the appeals process and represent you at hearings before the Administration. To schedule a free initial consultation, call our office at 617-263-0060 or contact us online today. We serve clients from our location in Boston.