What no one will tell you about living on social security disability What no one will tell you about living on social security disability

Established in 1935, the Social Security Act set up protections for some people who qualify after they become disabled and are unable to work. In theory, this sounds like a great social program to assist people who have been injured or become irreparably ill. But in reality, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can leave people stuck in a cycle of poverty, where they are dependent on navigating a complex system designed to deny a large portion of its applicants.

The Social Security Act’s Definition of Disability

Social Security has a strict definition of disability that is mostly clear on what it applies to and what it doesn’t cover. There are no half-measures with SSI; unlike worker’s compensation and the benefits for wounded veterans, SSI disability has no partial or temporary provisions. Under the Social Security Act, someone is only considered disabled if they can not work due to a serious medical condition that is expected to last more than one year or result in the person’s death.

The SSA goes on to outline that the medical condition the beneficiary has must stop them from completing the type of work they used to do. It also needs to prevent them from adjusting to a new type of work. This can be hard to prove for some professions and disabilities, which is why many people with disabilities end up needing the help of a Social Security disability lawyer.

Also read: Great Reasons to Become a Home Health Aide

Estimated Payments

The maximum monthly allotment for an individual on Social Security Disability went up in 2021, but only by a small amount. The maximum monthly amount awarded for an individual suffering from a disability is $794.

If an eligible couple is impacted by a disability together, the amount rises to $1,191, which is only $595.50 for each person. This is meant to offset the living costs of the person’s partner, which are no doubt impacted by the disability as well. Many partners function as caretakers at least part-time.

Losing Your SSI Coverage

While an improvement in health usually isn’t the reason, some people do lose their approved status for various reasons. Depending on the severity and the expected outcome of the medical condition causing disability, there is a Continuing Disability Review every three or seven years.

The main reason that people lose their benefits is passing a threshold of income or assets. Some assets are exempt, like an owned primary residence, but the low limit of $2000 in assets makes sure that people with any sort of means are removed from the system. There have been plenty of cases where an inheritance causes someone with a disability to lose their payments.

The income limit for an individual is $794 and the limit for a couple is $1,191. This is per month, meaning if a spouse or partner works at almost any full-time job, your benefits may be canceled. These limits not only apply to earned income like wages or contract pay, but they also apply to unearned income. This means a decent alimony check every month may be all it takes for the SSA to deny you coverage.

Managing these limits is important and can be difficult. Seek help if you are concerned about being denied SSI benefits or may be at risk of losing your current benefits.

Also read: Living with a Disability Successfully – 5 Top Tips

A Life in Poverty

A large portion of people on Social Security disability die every year, and they are three times as likely to die than others in their age group that are not disabled. The stress and challenge of living with a severe disability are immense, and the low support payments and an obstacle course of rules that the SSA presents don’t make life much easier.

The federal poverty threshold for 2021 is $12,880 of income per year for an individual and $17,420 for a household of two. This is a lot more than the $9528 per year than SSI pays an individual or the $14,292 paid to couples on disability. The system was designed to barely sustain life while keeping people in a cycle of poverty. Once you earn a little money or receive help from someone else, the SSA bails.

Know your rights and remember your worth. Don’t be trapped in the cycle, but don’t lose the benefits you need to survive.

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