Social Security Disability is a program that has helped many Americans make ends meet over the years when they have been unable to do so themselves due to injury, illness or disability. While it can be difficult to get approved for benefits, knowing those benefits are there and available if needed has been a game-changer for many who would otherwise be left high and dry.
For those who worked at a career a long time, but suddenly find themselves unable to work and collecting disability, not being able to end that cherished career on their own terms can be devastating. What’s more, if you’ve worked at a company for many years, you are probably owed some sort of pension or retirement pay. This can make many people nervous, however, wondering if a pension or other payment could interfere with their ability to collect the SSDI payments they so desperately need. A question frequently asked is whether someone can collect SSDI while at the same time collecting a pension — or do those payments offset and affect each other?
SSDI and Retirement Pensions
The good news is that, in most cases, you don’t have to worry about this. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is not a need-based system. Or rather, it is not a payment that is awarded based on financial need. It is based on whether or not you are able to earn a living through working. Your financial situation is not taken into consideration at all. If you became disabled, but are somehow able to collect a retirement pension as well, then the pension should not in any way affect your disability eligibility, or how much you are awarded per month.
A Few Exceptions
There are, however, a few exceptions to this rule. While it’s impossible to provide a definitive list of all types of pensions that could affect your SSDI payments, what matters is whether or not your pension withholds Social Security tax. If SS tax is taken out of your pension, then this means you are paying into the system and don’t have to worry. If these taxes are not being withheld, however, then you could see your payments from the SSA reduced or eliminated. These types of pensions include certain civil service retirement pensions as well as a few types of disability and long-term disability pensions.
SSI and Retirement Pensions
The same is not automatically true for the other type of disability, Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This type of disability is awarded to people who are suffering from a long-term disability while also struggling financially. To earn SSI you have to prove not only the existence of a physical or mental condition, but also that you and your family have little to nothing in the way or earnings or assets. Because a pension would qualify as a type of asset, this could very well affect whether you can still receive an SSI payment, or how much. SSI is a needs-based initiative, so the funds for this program are prioritized towards those who are in need.
If you are still concerned about whether or not your pension could affect your ability to collect SSDI or SSI payments, then please don’t hesitate to contact us today. Our experienced disability advocates are ready to assist you by answering your questions, or even starting to walk you through the process of applying for disability. We hope to hear from you soon!