How Other Payments Affect Social Security Disability Benefits In United States

Certain Social Security Benefits are available to the disabled in the United States, but they are subjected to restrictions and tests of income and can get curtailed in specific situations. Understanding these conditions and the benefits are important for future planning if one wishes to make the best of these benefits.
How Other Payments Affect Social Security Disability Benefits in United States
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Disability Benefits under Social Security: SSDI & SSI

The SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY BENEFITS consists of two major benefits - the SOCIAL SECURITY DISABLITY INSURANCE or SSDI, and SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME or SSI. They are provided selectively depending upon the fulfilment of eligibility criteria. SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY INSURANCE (SSDI) is a payroll funded insurance scheme administered by the Social Security Administration as per the mandate provided to it by the US Government. The aim of the program is to provide income during the period of disability that prevents the person from working, and guarantee an income for those who are unable to

work again.

The eligibility criteria of SSDI do not include any criteria pertaining to income. It is also not affected by any other Disability Insurance payments. Hence the different kind of earned and unearned incomes do not adversely affect the Social Security disability benefits. Notably, SSDI is an insurance program funded by the Social Security Trust Fund.

A common question that faces every disabled person while planning about their financial future is as to whether their Social Security disability benefits would be adversely affected because of the different payments. The simplest answer to that can be that it depends on the nature of other payments as well the total amount of payments, including social security disability benefits.

How SSDI is Affected by Other Payments

Other Payments that do not Affect SSDI Benefits

Payments for disability that are received from private sources, including private insurance payments and private pensions have no affect on the disability benefits eligibility. These do not affect disability benefits.

In addition, the receipt of certain public payments also does not affect disability benefits, These include the following:

  • Veterans Administration benefits;
  • State and local government benefits ( if Social Security taxes were deducted from your earnings);
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Other Payments that Affect SSDI Benefits

There are primarily two kind of other payments that can impact the eligibility to receive the disability benefits or that may reduce the amount of social security disability benefits received by a disabled individual. These can be summarised as follows:

  • WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BENEFITS – The Workers’ Compensation Benefits arise as a result of a job- related injury or illness, and are received by the federal or state workers’ compensation agencies or other employers. They can also be paid by insurance companies on behalf of employers.
  • OTHER PUBLIC DISABILITY BENEFITS - Other public disability payments that can potentially reduce your Social Security benefit are benefits that are received from the federal, state, or local government for the medical conditions related to disability, which is not related to job. Examples of such public disability benefits include civil service disability benefits, state temporary disability benefits, and state or local government retirement benefits, which are based on disability.

In addition, under the Windfall Elimination Provision, if the disabled worked for an employer who does not withhold social security taxes from his salary, for instance, a government agency or some employer in a foreign country, any retirement disability pension that the disabled person receives from that employer can also reduce the social security disability benefits. The reduction is determined by the SSA in a somewhat complex manner. In some cases, the Windfall Elimination Provision does not apply, for instance, if the only pension is from railroad employment, or the disabled person has more than 30 years of earnings under social security.

Other Payments Affect Disability Benefits & To What Extent

When a beneficiary receiving social security disability benefit also receives one of the two specified benefits as listed above, i.e. workers; compensation benefit or the other public disability benefits, then the total amount of benefits, including the social security disability benefits that a disabled individual can receive is limited to 80 percent of his average current earnings before he became disabled.

How SSI is Affected by Other Payments

Supplemental Security Income is an additional benefit that also requires the same disability criteria as in the SSDI. However, unlike SSDI, the SSI is a Government welfare program, funded directly by the Treasury funds. Hence benefits under the Supplemental Security Income program requires means testing based upon the net income and wealth of the beneficiary, which must be below a prescribed limit for this purpose, indicating need for additional support. The criteria for children with disability are different for grant of SSI.

For the year, the limit of unearned income which one can receive without affecting his Supplemental Security Income is $ 755 for an individual and $ 1123 for a couple. Since a large portion of earned income is not taken into account, it is possible to receive Supplemental Security Income if the earned income is not more than $1,555 a month for an individual and $2,291 for a couple.

For the purpose of means testing for SSI, INCOME is defined as earned and unearned money that you receive, such as wages, pensions, and social security checks. It can also include non-monetary items such as food, clothing and shelter (unless given to you by a non-profit organization such as a food pantry, church, or a homeless shelter). However, Social Security does not count all of your income. The following are excluded:

  • -   Food stamps
  • -   The first $20.00 of income received every month
  • -   The first $65.00 of wages earned every month
  • -   Half the earnings over the $65.00 earned every month
  • -   Student wages and scholarships
  • -   Wages used to purchase disability-related items or services needed for work
  • -   Wages used to pay for the work-related expenses of an individual who is blind


To sum up, both Social Security Disability Insurance as well as Supplemental Security Income can be affected by other payments in certain specified situations as listed above. In case of SSDI, the total payments can be reduced to 80% of average income just prior to disability. The SSI, on the other hand , can be affected by unearned income beyond the prescribed limit. For this purpose, the limits for earned income are higher than unearned income.

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