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Understanding Federal Benefits in Texas

Although Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are federal benefits the application processes vary across states. SSDI benefits funding comes from the Social Security Administration (SSA), while SSI benefits funding comes from general US tax revenue.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCstatistics describe 25.6 percent of adult Texans as having some form of disability. SSDI benefits can help these adults with disabilities that prevent them from working. Additionally, SSI benefits can help those Texas residents with low income. In 2019, the state count of SSI recipients was 644,093.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

A Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits applicant must typically pay into the Social Security program (FICA taxes) over the years with enough working hours to qualify their application. The Disability Determination Services (DDS), a part of the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, manages these benefits.

VA SSDI Benefits

US military veterans’ disability applications and filings are subject to a somewhat different process. You can learn about applying for SSDI benefits as a veteran. VA benefits and other federal benefits qualifications and applications often become complicated. Retaining a disability attorney before proceeding is in your best interest.

SSDI benefits may be available to you and certain family members if you are considered “insured,” meaning you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes on your earnings. If you are disabled, your benefits payment is based on what was paid to Social Security.

This qualifier for SSDI is different from SSI, which pays benefits to adults and children with a qualifying disability who have low income and limited resources. The two programs are different; however, the medical requirements are the same. If you meet the non-medical requirements, you will receive monthly benefits for a qualifying medical condition expected to last at least 12 months or result in your death.

SSDI Eligibility Requirements

To qualify in Texas for SSDI benefits, a person must meet all of these eligibility requirements:

  • Disability – Qualifying persons must meet the SSA definition for having a disability. The Code of Federal Regulations defines disability as “the inability to do any substantial or gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death, or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”
  • Paying In – Qualifying persons must pay into the Social Security system via taxes. When employed, the tax contribution is made via payroll deduction to the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). Employers and employees split this tax, while self-employed individuals pay the entire FICA tax amount.
  • Work Credits – Qualifying persons must earn work credits to meet Texas disability benefits eligibility requirements. The number of credits is dependent on the amount of income you earn. Each year you can earn up to four credits, and most individuals need a minimum of 40 credits to qualify for SSDI benefits.

The SSDI Application Process

When applying for SSDI in Texas, you can visit a Social Security Administration field office and apply using a paper application, call the SSA to apply over the phone, or fill out an application online. The disability qualifying determination process can take several weeks, and SSDI benefits do not begin until five months after the date the SSA determines you first became disabled. You can use this SSA Disability Starter Kit and download a Fact Sheet, Document Checklist, and Disability Worksheet. While the kit will provide good general information, it does not guarantee you will handle the application process properly.

Professional Help to Ensure the Process Goes Smoothly

You can be denied SSDI benefits if your application is incorrect or the medical information submitted is incomplete. You may also be denied based on your disability situation. If you appeal a benefits denial from the SSA, you will receive information on how to file your appeal within sixty days.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may be available to you along with SSDI if you qualify as a low-income, disabled Texas resident. This income-based program assists adults and children with disabilities by providing cash payments. Additionally, the program pays out to those Texans 65 and older who are not disabled yet meet the income guidelines. Like SSDI, SSI recipients in Texas can use their benefits to help pay for personal and healthcare expenses and daily living expenses.

Each program’s application is similar yet not the same. It is permissible to file for both programs simultaneously, and many Texans do since the waiting period for SSDI benefits takes several months after approval. In the state of Texas, the SSA automatically checks to see if an applicant qualifies for SSI if they are applying for SSDI benefits.

It is in your best interest to retain a disability lawyer to avoid potential application mishaps. A properly filed application with vital medical information that your attorney knows is salient to meeting disability requirements can make the application process and disability determination a smooth experience. Your lawyer can also represent you online or in a hearing by an administrative law judge if your SSDI application receives denial. A disability attorney who understands the laws and federal program requirements can quickly get you the disability benefits you need. Please contact our Houston office today at (713) 582-5088 or schedule a consultation to discuss your legal matters.

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