Benefits Planning

Disability Advocates has Certified Benefits Practitioners who can answer questions, assist with SSI/SSDI and DHHS applications, explain benefit interactions, and help you plan for the future. We understand the intricacies and relationships of various programs.

Benefits Counseling

This program is for people who receive government benefits  from agencies such as Social Security Administration/Michigan Department of Health and Human Services/Medicare/Medicaid who are interested in working.  This service educates people on how their benefits will be impacted by working.  Giving people the knowledge and understanding to make informed choices when considering their employment goals.

Social Security & Other Disability Related Programs

SSI/SSDI Frequently Asked QUestions

What do SSI and SSDI stand for?

SSI stands for Supplemental Security Income and SSDI stands for Social Security Disability Income.

What is the difference between SSI and SSDI?

SSI is a needs-based program. Beneficiaries must have little-to-no additional income and under $2,000 in assets. SSI beneficiaries do not have a substantial recent work history.

SSDI is a program based on the work history of the beneficiary or the beneficiary’s spouse or guardian.  Benefits received are related to contributions paid to the Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA).

Can someone receive both SSI and SSDI at the same time?

Yes. This is referred to as dual eligibility. If a beneficiary’s SSDI benefit is below a certain amount, they can receive SSI to supplement that amount. In these cases, both SSI and SSDI income rules apply, respectively.

How does someone apply for SSI or SSDI benefits?

The process of applying for benefits can be done online or in person. The first step is to gather as much information as possible about your medical and work history- contact information, diagnoses, jobs,  dates (as closely approximated as possible), etc. For more information about the application process, call DAKC’s main line at 616-949-1100 and ask to speak to an Information and Referral Specialist who will provide you with an initial worksheet.

Does Disability Advocates of Kent County help people with the appeals process?

DAKC does not currently have any staff available to help with SSA appeal, however we will be happy to direct you to our community partners who do.

How much will my SSI or SSDI check be?

Most SSI checks will be for the same amount. This amount is called the Federal Benefit Rate, and it goes up a little bit, each year. To find out this year’s FBR, Google “Federal Benefit Rate (this year)”. If you are receiving less than that amount, it can be for several possible reasons.

SSDI benefits amounts are determined by the SSA based on the amount that the person of record has paid into the system. This amount can vary quite a bit, but it will go up a little bit each year (this is called the Cost of Living Adjustment).

What are some reasons that my benefit check might be reduced?

For SSI beneficiaries, there are a few reasons  your check may be reduced, such as an overpayment that is being repaid out of your monthly check, or you may be getting a reduced benefit amount because the Social Security Administration believes you are not paying for rent and/or utilities (this is called “in-kind support and maintenance”), or there may be another less common reason.  

For SSDI, your check may be reduced due to Medicare Part B premiums being taken out, an overpayment, or other less common reasons.

Can I get Medicaid and/or Medicare while I’m on SSI and/or SSDI? For SSI beneficiaries, Medicaid is automatic. SSDI beneficiaries may also qualify for various categories of Medicaid, depending on the amount of their benefit and whether or not they’re working. Medicare is automatic with SSDI benefits after 24 months. For SSDI beneficiaries, it is possible to qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid.

How much money can I earn while on SSI and/or SSDI? This answer can be complicated.

For SSI beneficiaries, there is a formula to find the beneficiary’s “countable income” which will be subtracted from their benefit check. This formula may include certain rules for working beneficiaries which are called Work Incentives. To see if you may qualify for those special rules, you should contact a Work Incentives Practitioner to go over the various possibilities.

For SSDI beneficiaries, there is an income limit which goes up every year- this amount is called the Substantial Gainful Activity amount. However, before the SGA amount applies, there is a period of time called the Trial Work Period which has different rules. Because this can be a complicated answer based on the work history of the individual, it’s best to talk to a Work Incentives Practitioner to get this information based on your own record.

How much assets can I have while on SSI and/or SSDI?

SSI recipients cannot have more than $2,000 ($3,000 for couples) in assets. Assets that count towards that amount can include money in bank accounts, any property beyond the one that the beneficiary lives in, any vehicle beyond one for every adult in the household, retirement accounts, and various other assets.

For SSDI, there is no asset limit (though if the beneficiary is on Medicaid or other state benefits, there may be assets limits that apply to those benefits).

Are there any supports for beneficiaries that are working while on SSI and/or SSDI?

Yes. There are supports called Work Incentives. These supports can include things such as income exclusions for various disability-related costs, considerations and exclusions for extra on-the-job supports and services, rules that make it easier for a beneficiary to test out their ability to return to work, and many other supports. To find out which Work Incentives might apply to you, speak to a Work Incentives Practitioner.

Who can I speak to if I have further questions about my benefits?

Disability Advocates of Kent County has Work Incentives Practitioners as well as staff that works with individuals who wish to apply for benefits. Call the main line at 616-949-1100 and speak to an Information and Referral Specialist who will direct you to the appropriate staff member.

Contact us for more information