The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers two programs that provide benefits based on disability. Title II refers to the SSA insurance program which provides benefits to persons who, by virtue of their wok history and the social security taxes paid on their income, are considered insured. When such a person is no longer able to work he or she is entitled to disability benefits IF they meet SSA’s test for disability and have worked enough in the recent past to be considered “insured”. See the article, “What is social security’s test for disability?”

The supplemental security income program (Title XVI) is a program funded by the individual states and supplemented by the federal government. People who have never worked or haven’t worked enough to be considered “insured” for Title II disability benefits, or disabled children, who meet the disability test can claim SSI benefits BUT ONLY if they also meet a resource test, meaning limited income and assets. The SSI resource test, simply stated, allows single claimants to have $2,000 in income and assets and married claimants to have $3,000 in income and assets and still qualify for SSI. Certain assets, such as a home of any value, and one car of any value, if used for work or to obtain medical care, are excluded from consideration as a resource.

In some cases a person can qualify for both types of benefits, usually where a Title II claimant has a low disability monthly amount and sometimes when they have been out of work for so long that they have used up their resources and assets qualifying them for a limited time to SSI in addition to Title II benefits. These are referred to as “concurrent” claims by SSA.

There are significant differences in the amount of benefits each program pays, Title II monthly benefits being typically two to three times the amount paid by SSI. The SSI benefit rate varies from state to state. Also, Title II claims can be awarded retroactively up to one year prior to the time the claim is filed subject to a five full month waiting period from the date disability is established. SSI claims pay benefits beginning the first full month after the date the claim if filed or the claimant is found to be eligible. Medicare insurance entitlement is established for Title II disability recipients after they have received disability benefits for two years, while SSI recipients qualify for Medicaid immediately upon being established as disabled.

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