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Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) isn’t the only benefit you can claim if you have a disability. You can qualify for other benefits while receiving SSDI, including Supplemental Security Income, Medicare, Medicaid, private and employer disability insurance, disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), food and heating assistance and more.
Other federal programs
Supplemental Security Income
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a Social Security Administration (SSA) benefit program that provides a financial benefit to adults and children with disabilities and nondisabled adults older than 65 with limited income and resources. Many people who receive SSDI are also eligible to receive SSI payments.
» Learn more: Differences between SSI and SSDI
Medicare is a federal health insurance program for those 65 and older and those with disabilities and end-stage renal disease. The program covers hospital care (Part A), medical care (Part B) and prescription drugs (Part D).
Receiving SSDI makes you eligible for Medicare. There are a few exceptions, but typically, a 24-month waiting period for Medicare starts when you first receive SSDI.
Medicaid is a health care program that provides medical coverage to low-income adults, children, older adults, pregnant people, and people with disabilities. The program is funded jointly by state and federal governments and administered by individual states.
If you receive SSI, you may automatically be eligible for Medicaid. In many states, the SSI application is also a Medicaid application, but in some states, you may have to apply separately for Medicaid and SSI.
Food and energy benefits
If your income is limited, you may be eligible for benefits that help pay for necessities like food and heat. These include:
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. SNAP benefits supplement the cost of groceries for low-income families. These benefits are disbursed on an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card that works like a debit card in authorized food stores. Those receiving SSDI or SSI may also be eligible to receive SNAP.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. This federally funded program subsidizes heating, cooling and other energy costs. If you receive certain benefits, including SNAP and SSI, you may be automatically eligible for LIHEAP.
If you’re a disabled veteran, you may qualify for a VA disability benefit. The amount you receive depends on how severe your disability is and whether you have dependents. VA disability and SSDI are not affected by one another, and you may be able to receive both benefits.
Private insurance benefits
If you bought disability insurance from a private insurer before becoming disabled, you may be eligible for monthly payments of a certain percentage of your wages. Private insurance payments don’t affect your SSDI; you can receive both benefits.
Workers' compensation. Most businesses are required to provide some wage replacement, medical treatment and disability compensation if you become disabled because of something that happened while working. Receiving workers’ compensation will only reduce your Social Security disability payments if the combined amount of these benefits is more than 80% of your average earnings before you became disabled.
Disability insurance. Many employers in the private sector offer workers short- or long-term disability insurance. These plans can pay a percentage of your salary if your disability prevents you from working. Short-term plans typically pay for three months to a year, while long-term policies can pay from 90 days to years or even for life.
Government employees. Government and civil service positions may also offer disability insurance. The Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) covers most civilian federal employees, providing disability, retirement and survivor benefits. State governments also may provide disability benefits for their employees.
People with disabilities may be eligible for certain tax breaks and benefits:
Reduced or waived income tax on your SSDI income. If you don’t have other substantial income besides your SSDI and your total provisional income totals less than $25,000 annually (or less than $32,000 for joint filers), you won’t owe any income tax on your SSDI. If you exceed these limits, you’ll still only owe income tax on up to 85% of your SSDI, depending on your income. SSI benefits are not taxable.
Earned income tax credit. The EITC is a tax break for low-income families and individuals (including those with disabilities). This credit can reduce what you owe in income taxes or increase your refund amount. SSI, SSDI and military disability pensions don’t count toward your income when you claim an EITC.
Extra tax exemptions or deductions. The IRS offers an increased standard deduction for those who are legally blind and other tax breaks for those with physical or mental disabilities.
How to increase your SSDI benefit
There are a few ways to increase your SSDI benefit:
Your spouse, minor child or adult child, who became disabled before age 22 may be eligible to receive benefits on your record, which increases your total family income. You may also qualify for survivor’s benefits on a family member’s record if your eligible spouse, dependent parent or child has died.
Request to have your benefit recalculated if you feel the amount of your SSDI is incorrect and the SSA didn’t include all your income in its calculations.
Wait for your benefit to increase yearly when the SSA applies its annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLA).