Q: I am 24 years old. If I apply for SSI and received benefits does that preclude me from ever receiving SSDI benefits?
For example, say I am unable to work for 3 years and receive SSI benefits. Then I am able to work for 4 years and then again I am unable to work. Would I then be able to apply for SSDI?
A: If you are disabled and apply for SSI benefits now, you should first check to see if you are insured for SSDI benefits now based on the rules for younger workers who become disabled.
As a general rule, to qualify for Social Security benefits based on a disability other than blindness, you must have worked long enough and recently enough to get the number of work credits you need for disability benefits. The number of credits depends on your age when you became disabled. You can earn up to 4 credits in one year. Generally, you need 20 work credits earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled. But, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits. For example, if you become disabled:
Before age 24 –– You may qualify if you have six work credits earned in the three–year period ending when your disability starts.
Age 24 to 31 –– You may qualify if you have credit for having worked half the time between age 21 and the time you become disabled.
If you do not have enough credits for SSDI at the time you became disabled, you can earn credits while you are on SSI and qualify for SSDI. In fact, Social Security encourages those who have been found to be disabled to try to return to the workforce. If you do decide to try to work, you must be careful not to exceed the countable income and resource levels for SSI. For general information on SSI see, https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-income-ussi.htm. When you work, your SSI benefits are adjusted based on your income after a few deductions. Your first $65 in earnings are disregarded and, after that, your SSI benefits are reduced by $1 for every $2 earned. It may be the case that due to your earnings, your monthly SSI check will be substantially reduced or you may not be eligible for an SSI check some months.
Whether you are working or not, SSA conducts regularly scheduled continuing disability medical reviews for those receiving SSI, unless you are participating in the Ticket to Work program. See, https://www.ssa.gov/work/overview.html.
It would be a good idea for you to consult with a disability attorney about your particular circumstances before you file for disability benefits. Most disability attorneys provide a free consultation.
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