North Carolina Social Security Disability Benefits
Like many North Carolina clients we assist, you may be surprised to learn that there are two primary disability benefits programs run by the Social Security Administration. Depending upon your circumstances, you may qualify for benefit payments through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD or SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Within these programs are funds that provide Disabled Widows and Widowers Benefits (DWB), Disabled Adult Child Benefits (DAC) and benefits for people who are blind. If you are a public employee in North Carolina, you may be eligible for benefits through the Disability Income Plan of North Carolina (DIPNC).
These disability programs serve a large population and distribute hundreds of millions of dollars in benefits each year. This is part of the reason it has become increasingly complex and harder for newly eligible benefit applicants to navigate their bureaucracies successfully.
Our experienced North Carolina disability benefits attorneys at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., help disabled people who are having difficulty obtaining benefits from the Social Security Administration. If you have a disabling injury or medical condition that prevents you from working for a living, contact us today to discuss how our N.C. disability benefits lawyers may assist you.
North Carolina Social Security Disability vs. Supplemental Security Income Programs
Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income are two separate programs with different eligibility criteria that serve two populations.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD) provides payments to workers who have become disabled to such an extent they can no longer maintain gainful employment and earn income to support themselves. To qualify for SSD benefits, you have to have worked and paid into the program during five of the 10 years prior to becoming disabled. The amount of your benefit is based in part on your earnings.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides financial assistance to individuals who have very few financial assets and whose disability makes it impossible to work for a living. In most cases, SSI recipients have been disabled since birth or became seriously ill as children and have never been able to work. The program also serves disabled adults who never worked or did not work long enough to earn the work credits necessary to qualify for SSD. An additional segment of the SSI program serves people with financial need who are over age 65, or who are blind.
It’s unfortunate, but many families with disabled children learn about SSI many years after they could have begun receiving benefits for their child’s care. There is no mechanism for obtaining SSI payments retroactively. Benefit payments are made for the month following application and onward only. Many families also go without SSI benefits because they believe the family must have limited income and few assets to be eligible, but this primarily applies to the disabled individual.
More people who receive disability benefits do so through the SSD program. Recipients of SSD payments are not yet 65 years old and have worked long enough to earn “work credits” that help determine the amount of their benefit.
An attorney at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., can review your individual circumstances and benefits eligibility and help you pursue the appropriate disability benefits.
Can You Get SSDI and SSI at the Same Time?
In some cases, a disabled worker may receive payments from both the SSD and SSI programs. Typically, they qualify for SSD, but because they made very little over a short work history, even with SSD they have the financial need that makes them eligible for SSI. Receiving both SSD and SSI is referred to as “concurrent benefits.”
When the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers your application for SSD or SSI, it will determine whether you qualify for concurrent benefits, depending on your income and assets.
In addition to more in your monthly check, having SSI in addition to SSD makes you instantly eligible for Medicaid. An SSD recipient qualifies for Medicaid two years after they become eligible for SSD. Both SSI and SSD recipients are also eligible for Medicare, which covers fewer services, but which more doctors accept.
Determining which benefits you qualify to receive, instead of just hoping some overworked SSA claims examiner gets it right, requires a thorough understanding of the SSD and SSI programs and accompanying law. Our attorneys have that knowledge as well as the commitment required to make sure you obtain the full benefits that you are entitled to by law.
Can You Switch from SSI Benefits to SSD?
It may seem unlikely that someone who has been disabled and unable to work for a living all or most of their life could start receiving Social Security Disability, which is an insurance program based on years of gainful employment. But in certain cases, an SSI recipient can find work and, over several years, earn an SSD benefit. Many other SSI recipients eventually qualify for SSD’s Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefit.
The DAC benefit is available if you were disabled before the age of 22 and if one of your parents who paid into the Social Security program long enough retires, becomes disabled or dies. If the parent retires or becomes disabled, their child on SSI can receive 50 percent of their Social Security benefit. If the parent dies, the child gets 75 percent of the parent’s Social Security.
On one hand, if the additional SSD payment is more than the SSI benefit, the SSI benefit would likely end. But the upshot of receiving SSD is eligibility for Medicare after two years. If the beneficiary is single or married to another person who is also receiving DAC benefits, they do not lose Medicaid.
Disabled Widows and Widowers Benefits
If you are already receiving Social Security disability benefits and your spouse or ex-spouse dies, you become eligible for the Disabled Widows and Widowers Benefits (DWB), sometimes called “survivors’ benefits,” at age 50 (instead of at 60 without a disability).
If you lose a spouse or former spouse and are caring for your disabled child who receives benefits on their Social Security record, or any child under age 16, you may qualify for survivors’ benefits right away, regardless of your age.
The amount of the benefit is based on the late spouse’s or ex-spouse’s work record. You also receive a one-time Widow/Widower Benefit payment of $255 if you were living with your spouse at the time of his or her death. If you are entitled to a retirement or disability benefit with a monthly payment that equals or exceeds one-half of the deceased’s monthly benefit, you cannot collect DWB.
To apply for the transfer of Social Security disability benefits as a surviving spouse, you will need to provide the Social Security Administration certain documents including a death certificate and birth certificate for your deceased spouse, Social Security numbers and recent tax returns. The attorneys at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., can help you gather the necessary documents to qualify for Disabled Widows and Widowers benefits.
North Carolina Disability Benefits
If you are a teacher or other state employee in North Carolina, and a member of the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System or the Optional Retirement Program, the Disability Income Plan of North Carolina (DIPNC) provides monthly replacement income to you in the form of short-term, extended short-term and long-term disability benefits if you become disabled while you are a permanent employee.
The determination of disability and eligibility for benefits is generally made by your employer and physician. Either you or your employer may request a determination of disability by the Retirement Systems’ Medical Board. If you are approved for long-term disability through the DIPNC, you can continue to earn credits toward a state retirement through the North Carolina State Employees’ Retirement system.
This is a complex program that an attorney from Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., can help you navigate to ensure a proper, maximized benefit.
How Do You Know How Much Disability You Will Receive?
The big question about disability payments is “How much will my monthly disability check be?” Several factors determine how much you will receive as Social Security Disability or Supplemental Income payment.
SSD benefits are based on your average lifetime earnings covered under Social Security. SSI payments are based on your financial need.
Other benefits you receive, such as workers’ compensation, other public disability benefits not covered under Social Security, such as DIPNC payments, and/or any pension based on earnings may reduce the amount that Social Security will pay you.
The government sets payments, typically making cost of living adjustments each year for inflation.
The estimated average Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD, SSDI) benefit amount for 2021 is $1,277 per month. The maximum SSDI payment is approximately $3,148.
The monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for 2021 are $794 for an eligible individual, $1,191 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse, and $397 for an essential person (member of the household who helps care for the disabled person).
Our Raleigh Attorneys Can Help With Your North Carolina Disability Claim
Determining the disability payments that you are eligible to receive, and then obtaining them, are daunting tasks and involve navigating a complicated bureaucracy. Our attorneys have experience with applications and appeals for Social Security Disability and North Carolina disability programs. We can help you file your claim or appeal a denied claim. At Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., in Raleigh, we want you to have what the law allows you to receive and will give you our advice and a dedicated effort. Contact us today to speak with a paralegal or lawyer at no cost to you.