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Disability Benefits PA

January 23, 2022

Disability can befall anyone at any age. If you or your loved one is disabled, you may be eligible for federal disability benefits. These benefits provide an important source of income support.

The federal disability benefits are offered through two main programs. Perhaps you're not familiar with them, so you may not know how they work or which one applies to your situation. Well, don't fret.


In this article, we look at the difference between SSDI and SSI, the medical requirements, and the benefits of each program. Read on for more insight.

What Are Disability Benefits?

Social protection systems are aimed at solving the particular needs of the vulnerable, disadvantaged, and persons with disabilities. This is in regard to income security, health, and social inclusion.


One of the key aspects of social protection systems is disability benefits, which address disability-linked needs. These systems also offer financial support to disabled persons as well as their families. If you’re unable to work and earn an income due to a severe medical condition, you may qualify for either supplemental security income (SSI) or Social Security disability insurance (SSDI).

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is responsible for managing and controlling SSI and SSDI. To qualify for either program, you must satisfy SSA's disability requirements. So, what kind of disability qualifies for this program?

What Is Considered a Disability in PA?

According to the Social Security Act, you're considered disabled when:

· You cannot take part in any meaningful work. This could be due to a medically proven physical or mental condition; and

· Your medical condition is anticipated to last for not less than a year or lead to fatality.

Your medical condition must stop you from performing the work you were able to do in the past. Also, it must stop you from adapting to other work.

Here are a few examples of disabilities that may make you eligible for SSI or SSDI benefits:

· Immune disorders, including multiple sclerosis, lupus, HIV, or arthritis

· Mental disorders such as PTSD, autism, bipolar disorder, or anxiety disorders

· Neurological ailments like cerebral palsy or epilepsy

· Respiratory illnesses like asthma, cystic fibrosis, or COPD

· Life-threatening medical conditions like cancer and diabetes

Disabilities in Children

For children under 18 years:

· He or she must be suffering from a medically proven physical or psychological impairment that leads to serious functional limitations; and

· The medical condition is anticipated to last for not less than a year or lead to fatality.

Who Can Get Disability Benefits Under Social Security?

The persons who qualify can be categorized into three groups:

1.   An insured worker who becomes disabled before attaining retirement age.

2.   A child with disability since infancy (before 22 years). They should be dependent on a parent eligible for retirement benefits or Title II disability. Another scenario is if the child was a dependent of an insured parent who passed on.

3.   A widow or widower with disability between ages 50 and 60 whose late spouse was covered under Social Security.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) employs a “sequential evaluation process” to ascertain your eligibility for SSDI benefits. Read on to find out how disability determination is made in Pennsylvania.

How Is Disability Determination Made?

The review to determine disability comprises a five-step process. Here are the requirements considered in these five steps:

1.    Whether or not you're working. More specifically, is the claimant engaging in “substantial gainful activity” (SGA)? This evaluation involves two sections. First, the SSA seeks to evaluate if the work you do is “gainful.” which means you earn a specific amount of money every month. Next, the SSA assesses if the work you do is “substantial.” This means it is an occupation that cannot be done by a person with a disability. If you don't have a job, or if you're employed and that occupation is not SGA, you proceed to the next step.

2.    An evaluation of the gravity of your medically proven physical or psychological condition. Your medical condition is deemed severe if it affects your ability to fulfill essential job duties.

3.    A closer look at the severity of your impairment and whether it meets or equals a detailed listing of criteria provided by the SSA and the Social Security Act. If your impairments satisfy or equal the listing, you're awarded the disability benefits. If not, you proceed with further evaluation.

4.    An assessment of your work-related limitations. Basically, this involves what you're able to do given the restrictions caused by your medical condition.

5.    The final step is to determine whether or not you can comfortably perform other types of jobs in the national economy despite your limitations.

When it comes to children, the sequential evaluation process includes three steps:

1.   Whether or not the child is employed and performing a substantial gainful activity.

2.   The severity of the child's physical or mental impairments.

3.   Whether or not the child's medical condition meets or equals the detailed listing of criteria provided by the SSA and the Social Security Act.

After being evaluated for disability benefits eligibility, you'll need the right documents to apply for the same. Below are the documentation requirements needed to apply for SSDI benefits:

Documentation Needed to Apply for SSDI Benefits

· Form SSA-16

· Social Security card

· Birth certificate

· Your doctors’ contact information, as well as your treatment dates

· Current medication list

· Medical records

· And X-rays, test results, and labs

· Work information from the past 15 years (including contact information for supervisors and your job duties)

· Tax documents from the previous year

· Prior marriage dates

· Bank information for direct deposit

· Injury documents such as workers’ compensation documents, if applicable

Types of Disability Benefits in Pennsylvania

· Supplemental Security Income (SSI): This is given to disabled persons depending on their financial needs. This is regardless of whether or not they are currently employed.

· Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): This is similar to a disability pension. It applies to persons who have employment history and remitted Social Security taxes on their earnings for a given period to be insured under Social Security policy.

· Pennsylvania Medicaid: This offers health coverage to persons with low income who are considered vulnerable or disadvantaged. This could be persons with disabilities, children, seniors, and pregnant women.

· Under Unemployment Compensation: You get temporary financial assistance when you're no longer in employment through no mistake of your own or when you work for a few hours less than normal full-time hours. The money is meant to help you survive while you look for a new job.

So, what benefits do you stand to get as a disabled person in Pennsylvania?

What Are Pennsylvania's Disability Benefits?

What you receive a disability payment in Pennsylvania will depend on your average lifetime income. A majority of SSDI recipients get between $800 and $1,800 a month. In 2020, the average SSDI disability payment was $1,258.

The maximum supplemental income payments in Pennsylvania are as follows:

· $783 a month for a person living on their own

· $1,175 a month for married partners living on their own

· $522 a month for a person staying in someone else's residence

· $783.34 a month for married partners staying at someone else's residence

The Bottom Line

You must accompany your application for Pennsylvania disability benefits with all the necessary medical documents. You should also submit a detailed employment history. This will help the SSA determine if you qualify and then award you the benefits.

Depending on your preference, you can make your application online or in person. You can also choose a phone application. Regardless of your choice, you will receive a confirmation email from SSA regarding your successful application for disability benefits in Pennsylvania.