What You Need to Know about Social Security’s 3 Biggest Programs

3 Social Security Programs For Every Stage Of Life

(Daily360.com) – Most Americans know the US government provides retirement benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, the SSA also offers financial help for people with disabilities and other assistance to people below the poverty line. Nearly 70 million Americans have benefited from SSA funds.

It can be confusing to find out what SSA benefits you or a family member may be eligible for. Each program has different eligibility criteria, but there may be some overlap. The SSA administers three programs:

  • Social Security Retirement
  • Social Security Disability Insurance
  • Supplemental Security Income

Retirement Benefits

This is a program that Americans know very well since everyone who has worked will receive benefits when they are at least 62 years old. It measures the amount you can pay into the program each year. Your payments for the program cap at $9114.00, regardless of your income.

The amount you qualify for is based on several factors, and we will go over those in detail.

How to Determine Your Retirement Benefits

The SSA uses a credit score system to determine your eligibility. If they were born after 1929, you need 40 points and ten years of work. These are the minimum years you can retire and receive full retirement benefits.

• Born between 1943-1954: 66

• born after 1955: 67

After retirement, your benefits increase, but the maximum monthly amount for someone is $4,194 per month. SSA calculates retirement benefits based on your last 35 years of earnings.

Social Security Disability Insurance

There is another program you and your dependents may qualify for if they are disabled and unable to work before your retirement age – Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). If you have an illness that prevents you from working for less than a year or are terminally ill, you are eligible for SSDI benefits. The requirements are simple: have you worked recently, long enough, and paid social security taxes? If so, you can get those funds back. If your disability is temporary or partial, you may not be eligible for SSDI benefits.

Who Determines if I’m Disabled?

The SSA has a process and checklist you use to determine if your disability is eligible for SSDI. When you apply for SSDI benefits, the SSA will decide if your case is selected for review. If so, they send it to your state’s Disability Determination Services office. The DDS office will collect information and evidence about the following:

• Your exact diagnosis

• when your condition started

• Test results and prognosis

• How does it interfere with your activities, especially work?

They will ask specific questions about your activities, walking, lifting, sitting, and recording tasks and instructions. If the DDS decides they cannot make that decision, they will refer you to another doctor for a second opinion. SSA approves all medical expenses and other travel expenses.

Before making a final decision, the DDS will assess whether you can work in another capacity or if your condition will allow you to work again within 12 months.

How Do They Calculate SSDI Benefits?

Benefits are calculated based on age and work history, using average earnings in the years before the disability occurred. In 2022, the average SSDI benefit is $1,223 per month, increasing to $3,345 per month.

Supplemental Security Income

SSA also has a program available—Supplemental Security Income (SSI)— to assist older, disabled, or blind people with limited income and few assets.

Qualifying for SSI

In 2022, the federal income benefit (FBR) is $841 for a single person and $1,261 for a couple if both are eligible. Because SSI is a supplemental program — designed to supplement current retirement or special needs benefits — you can receive Social Security benefits or SSDI plus SSI.

The SSI program provides additional monthly income so recipients can meet their clothing, food, and housing investment needs as much as they can from where they live and their income. Some states add money to federal SSI assistance, so more people may qualify.

How SSA Determines Benefits

The SSA looks at your assets and income before deciding SSIon :

• Bank Deposits

• Real estate, bonds, and other investments

• Cash (check or checking account)

Your total assets cannot exceed $2,000 for a single or $3,000 for a couple eligible for SSI.

If you have other income—Social Security, pension, or wages—your SSI payments will be lower. The SSA also considers where you live when determining your SSI benefits, if you live with your family, for example, or if someone else arranges your housing.

Most people who claim SSI receive assistance from other sources, both public and private. If you think you or a family member is not eligible for this money because you have worked elsewhere, please understand that there is no limit to the amount of foreign cash you can receive. If you get help from these groups, you may still be eligible for SSI.

• You eat or receive food from a non-profit organization

• Strong support at home

• Grants and scholarships to be used for tuition or other educational expenses

• National Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) grants.

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