Mental Disorders and SSD (Social Security Disability) and SSI
Are those who file for disability for mental conditions, such as depression, schizophrenia, anxiety disorder, etc., more likely to be approved if they file for security disability (SSD) benefits, or supplemental security income (SSI) benefits?
Although this is a common question asked by those who contemplate filing for disability on the basis of a mental impairment, it is really a moot point, because the applicant has absolutely no choice in the matter. It is the social security claims representative who decides, after reviewing your work history and assets, if you qualify for benefits under SSD, SSI, or both programs.
You can collect SSD benefits only if you have earned wages in the past and paid FICA taxes, which fund the social security system. Another name for SSD is SSDI, or social security disability insurance, and this name more accurately reflects the purpose of the program, which is to cover those who have worked with some form of disability insurance should they become incapacitated.
SSI benefits, on the other hand, are awarded to those who are too disabled to work but have either not worked, or not worked enough to qualify for SSD insurance. It may also be used to supplement SSD benefits, if the claimant has worked enough to receive some SSD, but not enough to get by. The biggest difference between SSD and SSI is that SSD is awarded to individuals who have worked and are deemed, by a social security disability examiner or judge, to be too disabled to work as a result of their impairment, while SSI is awarded to those claimants who have not worked a significant amount of time in the recent past, are too disabled to work, and can demonstrate that their total assets do not exceed $2,000 (your home and one car are not included in this amount).
It is true that many of those who file for disability for mental disorders collect benefits under SSI disability, but this may be due in large part to the nature of their impairment; for instance, those who suffer from manic depressive disorders are more likely to have a sketchy work history, with cycles of employment corresponding to their highs and lows, and are therefore less likely to have had enough FICA taxes deducted from their paychecks to qualify for social security disability insurance.
So, those who are thinking of filing for disability benefits for a mental condition should not concern themselves over the program from which they will receive benefits. The decision is out of their hands, and really has little bearing on the outcome. Instead, they should concentrate their efforts on making sure their paperwork is in order, including a complete medical history, work history, and statement of assets, so that their claim can be handled as quickly and appropriately as possible, and to maximize the chance to qualify for disability.
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