When you have a disability and are no longer able to work, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can provide a monthly income and other benefits that help with living expenses for you and your family. Our guide to financial stability after disability provides valuable information on available benefits through SSDI, SSI, and other assistance programs, and explain how these benefits can ensure a more stable financial future.

If You Want to Earn Additional Income on SSDI

If you live in Illinois and become disabled due to some type of illness or injury, you’re entitled to file a claim for disability benefits. You can file your claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) through the Social Security Administration (SSA), the federal agency that handles both types of disability claims. There are major differences between eligibility requirements for SSDI and SSI benefits that are explained in disability benefits 101.

SSDI Benefits

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is financed with Social Security taxes paid by employers, workers, and self-employed individuals. You can only collect SSDI benefits if you have a credible work history and accumulate a sufficient number of work credits. Your eligibility depends on how long you have worked, how many work credits you have, and if you paid Social Security taxes.

If you are approved for SSDI benefits, your monthly benefit payment is based on your earnings record from your work history. Approved benefits are payable to disabled or blind workers under age 65, as well as their spouse or widower, their children, and their adult disabled children. After you receive benefits for two years, you will automatically get Medicare coverage.

SSI Benefits

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is financed through general tax revenues, and it is not related to your work history. Benefits are based on your financial needs. SSI benefits are typically paid to low-income individuals who have a previous work history or no work history at all. However, to collect benefits, you must be a United States citizen or national and have limited income and resources for living requirements.

If you are approved for SSI benefits, your monthly benefit payment can vary from state to state based on the maximum federal benefit rate. Approved benefits are payable to adults who are 65 years old or older, adults who are disabled or blind, and children who are disabled or blind. In Illinois and most other states, people who receive benefits are also automatically qualified for Medicaid.

Ticket to Work

If you are collecting SSDI benefits, disability benefits 101 explains that you are not allowed to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) under the Social Security Administration (SSA) guidelines. If you are working and earning an income, your SSDI benefits will be denied. However, you are allowed to make some money through Social Security’s Ticket to Work Program, which provides different benefits for people on disability who are ages 18 through 64 and who receive Social Security disability benefits and want to work. The Ticket to Work Program is free and voluntary. It connects people with disabilities to the services and support they need in the workforce and helps them to achieve financial independence.

Trial Work Period

If you are collecting SSDI benefits, you can also enter into a trial work period which allows you to test your ability to work for 9 months while receiving full benefit payments, no matter how much you earn from your job. The Trial Work Period (TWP) is one of Social Security’s Work Incentives for people who are working and receiving Social Security benefits.

When you enter the Trial Work Period, Social Security uses the amount of earnings you make in a month, before taxes, to calculate if a month counts toward one of the 9 months of your TWP. In 2022, any month when you earned $970 or more counted toward your TWP. For example, if you began your TWP in 2022 and earned $1,500 in January and $800 in February, you would have used 1 of your 9 TWP “service months.” If you start your TWP as a self-employed person, any month you earn $970 or work more than 80 hours, that month will count as one of your TWP “service months.”

Additional Benefits You Might Be Eligible for if You Receive SSDI

Living and surviving only on SSDI benefits is possible, but covering your monthly expenses and making ends meet can be a challenge. By understanding disability benefits 101, you learn that you have other resources available to you in addition to SSDI benefits.

Food Stamps

Putting food on the table for your family is a challenge for many low-income households, many of whom include SSDI benefit recipients. If you have limited income, you may qualify for food stamps. If you have limited income, and you have a disability, you may be eligible to receive even more food stamps, even if you did not qualify for food stamps in the past.

SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program now handles the former food stamp program. SNAP is a federally-funded program that is overseen by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and administered by state Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) agencies. The program was designed to help low-income families purchase healthy food items and stretch their family food budget. Qualified recipients can use SNAP benefits at most convenience stores, grocery stores, co-op food programs, and some farmers’ markets.

Medical Assistance

Many SSDI recipients struggle with medical expenses, especially if they have several health conditions that require regular physical exams and checkups, medications, home health visits, and home health supplies. If you are collecting SSDI benefits, you may be eligible for a home aide program that includes the following services:

  • Caregivers
  • Nurses
  • Doctor home visits
  • Physical therapist home visits
  • Medication assistance cards
  • Meal deliveries

There are also transportation programs that provide medical transportation to and from hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices, as well as para transit services, Medicaid taxis, and wheelchair services. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires most public transit systems to provide para transit services and transportation for people with disabilities who are unable to use the regular, fixed-route transit service that serves their local area. Low-cost home aid programs and transportation services are designed to help low-income and disabled individuals get better health care at significantly lower costs.

How a Chicago Social Security Disability Lawyer Can Help Get Benefits

If you’re filling a claim in Illinois for SSDI or SSI benefits, a Chicago Social Security disability lawyer can ensure a successful claim by overseeing the entire process from start to finish. The SSA is very strict on its guidelines and requirements for disability benefits. Illinois disability claims require documented income, evidence of medical records, and timely filing requirements. If the SSA denies your claim, you must file an appeal and attend court hearings to try and get your claim approved.

How to File for Disability

In Illinois, the Bureau of Disability Determination Services (DDS) is the state department that makes the initial determinations about eligibility for disability. When an application is submitted, DDS reviews the application and gathers the applicant’s medical information. Following the claim review, DDS may schedule a consultative examination (CE) for the applicant. A CE is a medical examination that is performed by a licensed physician who is hired by the Social Security Administration.

What is the easiest way to get disability benefits? The first step in applying for disability benefits starts with filing an application. Most Illinois SSDI and SSI applications can be filed through a local field office or online. The application requires answers to a number of questions that address your income and disability, so it’s important to provide accurate, credible facts that can be easily verified. Errors or mistakes on your application can result in a denied disability claim.

How Many Claims Usually Get Denied?

According to disability benefits 101, about 60% of SSDI and SSI claims get denied, often due to insufficient medical evidence to show proof of a disability. This is another important reason to work with a Social Security disability lawyer who can file an appeal. If SSA denies your claim, it’s better to file an appeal than to wait and reapply with a new claim. Evidence shows that more than 50% of SSA appeals are successful.

To determine the level of severity and the duration of your disability, the SSA looks closely at two different factors: (1) How does your impairment affect your daily life? (2) Is your impairment expected to last for at least one year or longer? After answering those questions, the SSA will analyze your impairment to see if the condition meets or equals one of the SSA Blue Book’s impairment listings. These are listings of all illnesses and medical conditions that qualify a person to be considered disabled and eligible for disability benefits.