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dylatess
dylatess, ATTORNEY
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 3441
Experience:  37 plus years of SSD practice
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My sister is 74 yr. and is currently on SS. She is mentally

Customer Question

My sister is 74 yr. and is currently on SS. She is mentally disabled and cannot work. Can she apply for SSI and drop SS?
JA: These retirement benefits are supposed to help us but they can be so complicated! The Retirement Expert will help you get the most benefits propertly. Please tell me more, so we can help you best.
Customer: Mhmr helped get her (Anna) a job which she worked for 25+ yrs and then was let go. At age 65 she applied for SS. She currently lives by herself but has close support that check on her on a daily basis; helping with laundry, grocery shopping; paying bills. I am her brother and her SS Representative payee. I'm thinking that I may have made a mistake in putting her on SS instead of SSI.
JA: Is there anything else the Accountant should be aware of?
Customer: She is currently living in Lubbock, TX and has for 60+ yrs. but I'm and going to have to move her closer to me in Fayetteville, AR because she is rapidly losing her support in Lubbock.
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Social Security
Expert:  Lane replied 2 months ago.

Hi. If she worked for 25+ years, her Retirement benefit would likely be higher than any SSI benefit.

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Also, it's important to distinguish between SSI and SSDI.

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The main difference between Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is the fact that SSDI is available to workers who have accumulated a sufficient number of work credits, while SSI disability benefits are available to low-income individuals who have either never worked or who haven't earned enough work credits to qualify for SSDI.

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SSI is essentially a program for the impoverished and only pays 700+ per month.

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Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program that is strictly need-based, according to income and assets, and is funded by general fund taxes (not from the Social Security trust fund). SSI is called a "means-tested program," meaning it has nothing to do with work history, but strictly with financial need. For SSI, you must have less than $2,000 in assets and a very limited income.

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SSDI however, becomes retirement at full retirement age. If she was already past normal retirement age SSDI would not have been available. And if she was on SSDI (which is where one with a work record would have been) then the SSDI switches automatically to Social Security Retirement at age 65 or 66 (full retirement age, depending on when the person was born)

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
She was 58 when she was let go and the co. gave her a choice of $17 per month retirement or $15000 lump sum. We elected the $15k. Does that exclude her from the SSDI?
Expert:  Lane replied 2 months ago.

If she was disabled at the time, then she would have been able to get disability starting the following year.

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That 15,000 would have been over the SGA (Substantially Gainful Activity) level at the time. Right now, for example, someone who meets the medical definitions of disability can still earn 1170 per month and not disqualify themselves from SSDI.

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Her earnings record would have determined the amount of SSDI, and then the SSDI would have converted to retirement benefits at her full retirement age.

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But if she worked any between then and her retirement age, she would have been pushing up the benefit for retirement purposes. ... So she would have had a bird in hand (if she WOULD have qualified at the time and DIDN'T work), but her eventual SSA retirement benefit may be higher becasue she didn't