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Sun Sep 28, 2014, 12:57 AM

My significant other went blind this week.

S/he's 55, and I'm older; and her/his livelihood and interests all depended on vision.

I'm a long-time DU'er, and this may be the first time I've posted anything very personal on DU – not my style. But this loss was very unexpected, and we are totally reeling.

We need to figure out so much, in so many areas of life. Among other things, s/he was self-employed, and although we do have savings, it's not enough to retire on; we need income.

If you have any suggestions, thoughts, etc., thank you. We live in a state where there's probably less help/support available than than in others.

Again, thanks.

38 replies, 5631 views

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Arrow 38 replies Author Time Post
Reply My significant other went blind this week. (Original post)
snot Sep 2014 OP
MannyGoldstein Sep 2014 #1
snot Oct 2014 #22
Warpy Sep 2014 #2
snot Oct 2014 #23
rug Sep 2014 #3
underpants Sep 2014 #15
snot Oct 2014 #24
marym625 Sep 2014 #4
shenmue Sep 2014 #5
Solly Mack Sep 2014 #6
donco Sep 2014 #7
calimary Sep 2014 #8
Skittles Sep 2014 #13
calimary Sep 2014 #20
Skittles Sep 2014 #21
snot Oct 2014 #25
snot Oct 2014 #26
BrotherIvan Sep 2014 #9
snot Oct 2014 #27
Sherman A1 Sep 2014 #10
snot Oct 2014 #28
renate Sep 2014 #11
snot Oct 2014 #29
liberal_at_heart Sep 2014 #12
underpants Sep 2014 #14
broiles Sep 2014 #17
broiles Sep 2014 #18
irisblue Sep 2014 #16
FailureToCommunicate Sep 2014 #19
snot Oct 2014 #30
snot Oct 2014 #31
ZombieHorde Oct 2014 #32
madamvlb Oct 2014 #33
CountAllVotes Oct 2014 #34
happyslug Oct 2014 #35
snot Nov 2014 #36
happyslug Nov 2014 #37
mackerel Jul 2015 #38

Response to snot (Original post)

Sun Sep 28, 2014, 01:08 AM

1. My thought is: my thoughts and prayers are with you

 

Such a difficult thing to have happen, and to deal with.

I don't really have any expertise in your situation, but I saw your post and wanted to say something.

One thing that I can say: I live in Massachusetts, one of the few states where people really care about one-another. I'm sure that moving would be tough to do, but if you need the support, we have a good social safety net for people who run into bad luck, that you could take advantage of.

Best wishes,

Manny

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Reply #1)

Wed Oct 8, 2014, 02:48 AM

22. Thx, dear.

Unfortunately, our state & its mentality is dominated by conservatives.

But the support of friends genuinely helps.

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Response to snot (Original post)

Sun Sep 28, 2014, 01:08 AM

2. I don't know what the disease process is

but many can be treated if you get treatment fast. If you haven't gone to the ER, go now.

If not, start the paperwork for SSD online on Monday morning. You'll need to get his/her doctor on board with that, get copies of the ER paperwork to copy and send, and generally get your ducks in a row. Blindness is one of those things they usually expedite, meaning you're not going to be waiting until after s/he qualifies for SS to get SSD.

The next thing you need to do is start checking out services for the blind. You'll be surprised how many there are. My parents lived in a hick town far from everything and my mother was set up with amazing services when it happened to her. I didn't bother because my own conditions were treatable with a corneal transplant, which I finally got. I live in a neighborhood where I can walk to everything if I have to.

The next thing is to apply for benefits you can get now that you're down to one income, like food stamps. You've paid into all this stuff all your life, it's time to get the benefits.

Income from SSD is usually higher than early SS. It won't be a princely sum but it will be the difference between being able to save and running through everything you have already saved.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #2)

Wed Oct 8, 2014, 02:52 AM

23. Thank you.

At present, s/he's on the edge between disabled, or not. One eye stable, the other already worse since the last exam; but either/both might get better over the next 3 to 6 mos. S/he'll never be able to do the same work again, regardless; and I worry as much or more about her/his emotionally ability to cope, as about the physical.

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Response to rug (Reply #3)

Sun Sep 28, 2014, 07:49 AM

15. Excellent links

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Response to rug (Reply #3)

Wed Oct 8, 2014, 02:53 AM

24. thank you, dear.

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Response to snot (Original post)

Sun Sep 28, 2014, 01:23 AM

4. I am so sorry

What a horrible, , painful thing to happen. I wish I had something wonderful to tell you.

My thoughts are with you. If I hear of anything I will definitely let you know

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Response to snot (Original post)

Sun Sep 28, 2014, 01:56 AM

5. ...

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Response to snot (Original post)

Sun Sep 28, 2014, 02:17 AM

6. I'm sorry to read this.

I wish I knew more to tell you. I can offer my care and support as you both adjust to this new way of life.

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Response to snot (Original post)

Sun Sep 28, 2014, 02:20 AM

7. If S/he's has

Paid into SS make an appointment at your closest SS office and apply for SS disability as soon as you can.

My son had a stoke on Oct 20, 2008 I represented him and it was pretty straight forward, but took about a year with all the hitches/glitches.Good luck and keep all the medical bills/dates.

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Response to snot (Original post)

Sun Sep 28, 2014, 02:27 AM

8. Damn. So sorry to hear this, snot.

Hey, this is one of the really valuable things DU provides for us all, here. Come and bring your troubles and setbacks and ventings and challenges. We're here to listen and to offer sympathy and consolation and encouragement - and some people here often have valuable professional or experiential insights. As Skittles once put it - "someone's always here."

And even if none of us can offer real help or concrete suggestions or answers, there are still many broad shoulders here for you to lean on.

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Response to calimary (Reply #8)

Sun Sep 28, 2014, 06:34 AM

13. yup we are indeed here

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Response to Skittles (Reply #13)

Sun Sep 28, 2014, 10:40 PM

20. You! That post you wrote awhile back - "someone's always here" -

Dearest Skittles, that's been one of the most valuable and sustaining things I've EVER read here on DU. Hope you don't mind if I quote you, which I do pretty frequently.

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Response to calimary (Reply #20)

Mon Sep 29, 2014, 12:25 AM

21. it's cool, calimary!

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Response to calimary (Reply #20)

Wed Oct 8, 2014, 02:55 AM

25. thank you.

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Response to calimary (Reply #8)

Wed Oct 8, 2014, 02:56 AM

26. thank you.

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Response to snot (Original post)

Sun Sep 28, 2014, 02:29 AM

9. I'm so sorry to hear this

I wish the very best for both of you and please post if there is anything you may need that we could perhaps help with. I would be happy to donate or purchase something that would make life easier if possible. My job sounds similar to your SO, so I empathize very much. I hope you get as much help and support as you need.

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Response to BrotherIvan (Reply #9)

Wed Oct 8, 2014, 02:56 AM

27. thank you, dear.

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Response to snot (Original post)

Sun Sep 28, 2014, 03:53 AM

10. Very sorry to hear this

my spouse has had significant health issues over these last few years and I know it isn't easy.

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Response to Sherman A1 (Reply #10)

Wed Oct 8, 2014, 02:57 AM

28. I know you understand.

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Response to snot (Original post)

Sun Sep 28, 2014, 03:59 AM

11. what a horrible shock... I'm so sorry

As awful as this is, thank goodness for modern science. I wonder whether there are technologies that, until now, you've never had to research that might help--computer programs that can read text aloud, for example, or that can convert speech to text. Not knowing what s/he did for employment or for hobbies, I have no idea what you might need, but perhaps there is some hope now that didn't exist just a few years ago.

But that doesn't address the elemental loss of vision, and it sounds like you perhaps had no warning. I hope--and I'm sure--that there are support groups that can help you get through this. I simply cannot imagine what you are going through. Both of you are in my thoughts.

http://www.afb.org/default.aspx
https://nfb.org//
http://www.nei.nih.gov/lowvision/content/resources2.asp

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Response to renate (Reply #11)

Wed Oct 8, 2014, 03:01 AM

29. Thank you, dear –

yes, no warning.

And the last 3 years had been tough already. S/he fought off 2 rounds of cancer, while freelance income flatlined at zero.

Yes, we've been investigating the tech, and it's great. Practically, there's great cause for hope.

But emotionally, I worry about her/his ability to cope, and whether my remaining years of trying to do the work I feel called on to do might have to give way to caretaking.

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Response to snot (Original post)

Sun Sep 28, 2014, 06:30 AM

12. Check to see if your state has an occupational blind school.

If it does he/she can be trained to work without sight. Also check to see if they have a Light House for the Blind. They hire blind people to assemble products for companies and for the government. Check to see if your state has a State Department for the Blind. They can help in lots of ways, and apply for Social Security Disability income. I am so sorry. I know what you are going through. My husband is legally blind.

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Response to snot (Original post)

Sun Sep 28, 2014, 07:49 AM

14. Contact your local state agency and the NFB

National Federation for the Blind

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Response to underpants (Reply #14)

Sun Sep 28, 2014, 06:20 PM

17. Our best friend is blind and leads a full and interesting life.

He has a guide dog and all sorts of toys for the blind that allow him to read. Your state agency for the blind can help you with this. He and his wife travel far and wide, dine out frequently, and visit with their many friend. Because he stays informed and has a keen sense of humor, everyone enjoys his company. His attitude and his wife's unfailing support are key to his ability to lead such a full life. Find out what services and find out what toys are out there. Most of all get a guide dog. Not only will you be able to get around, but people will approach and engage with you if you have a dog and you will not feel so alone.

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Response to broiles (Reply #17)

Sun Sep 28, 2014, 06:35 PM

18. In General Discussion there is a post about a new reader app

for your smart phone that allows one to read newspapers, menus etc.

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Response to snot (Original post)

Sun Sep 28, 2014, 03:08 PM

16. sending hope for you both

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Response to snot (Original post)

Sun Sep 28, 2014, 10:34 PM

19. Your significant other need not give up on TV and movies. Descriptive Video Service (DVS) provides

audio track narration of many TV shows and a large roster of movies. I would guess this may not be high on your lists of immediate concerns right now, but in time your pal may like to check it out. It was first pioneered at public TV WGBH station in Boston in the early 1990's. DVS is easily acessed by turning on the SAP (separate audio channel) channel button on your TV.

Link for more info:

http://main.wgbh.org/wgbh/pages/mag/description.html

"The Descriptive Video Service (DVS) is a major United States producer of video description, which makes visual media, such as television programs, feature films, and home videos, more accessible to people who are blind or otherwise visually impaired. DVS often is used to describe the product itself. It is a special audio track that includes extra descriptions of what is happening on screen for the visually impaired."

P.S. Dear snot, I would like to add my voice to the many here who are distraught to hear of the new direction your life is taking, but are encouraging you to seek out the myriad resources available to one of the oldest and most supported of disabling conditions. I have been amoung people with disabilities all my life and know many people who are blind or visually impaired. They lead successful, fulfilling lives. Keep your courage up!

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Response to FailureToCommunicate (Reply #19)

Wed Oct 8, 2014, 03:03 AM

30. Thank you all so much.

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Response to snot (Original post)

Wed Oct 8, 2014, 03:05 AM

31. Thank you all so much . . .

I hoped to reply to each individually, but I am too tired, and have to get up early to take him to another doc. I'm pretty sure your info will be helpful; and your emotional support already has been.

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Response to snot (Original post)

Wed Oct 8, 2014, 03:54 AM

32. That sounds scary for so many reasons.

I you wish you loved ones love and support.

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Response to snot (Original post)

Wed Oct 8, 2014, 06:14 AM

33. My thoughts are with you through this difficult journey

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Response to snot (Original post)

Tue Oct 28, 2014, 07:01 AM

34. I know what you are dealing with

My husband suddenly lost the sight in his right eye in 2002. Cause: Wet macular degeneration (he is 78 years old now).

The other eye was holding up good until he contracted the shingles in 2008. They attacked his good eye and he had a to have a cataract surgery about two years ago that did not go so hot (an infection set in).

At present he has minimal vision in one eye only.

He gets $461.00/month from Social Security. He could get more if we would divorce which would not be to his advantage at all. I have decent health insurance which covers him and he has to have surgery every 2-3 months on the eye he can still see a bit out of.

As it stands now, I am responsible for almost everything being he can no longer read or write.

I myself have MS and I've gone blind myself a few different times thanks to this crappy illness. It is not assisting this situation one tiny little bit as I am too exhausted to do much of anything these days.

I'm in a real bind with NO help at all because I am not flat broke (but getting there very quickly).

I'd suggest contacting the Lighthouse for the Blind if there is one near to where you live -- maybe they can help?

I wish I knew what else to say except know that you are not alone.

You don't realize how very important your eyesight is until suddenly, without warning, one day it is gone.

I'm sure you are almost as upset as you SO is. Here is a for both of you.


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Response to snot (Original post)

Thu Oct 30, 2014, 08:23 PM

35. First thing is apply for Social Security Disability,

 

He or she should have paid Self Employment tax and as such paid into Social Security which includes disability for people who become disabled and have a work history.

If her/his eyesight is now less then 20/200 in her/his better eye then it will be almost automatic. That is the listing for blindness. i.e. automatic ruling that he or she is disabled, no other consideration is done is such cases.

If her/his eyesight is better then 20/200 in the better eye, he/she may still be ruled disabled for she/he is over age 55. At age 55 a person is eligible for Social Security Disability unless she/he can do past work (i.e work he or she has done in the last 15 years, and it does not sound like he/she can NOT), AND they can still do Medium jobs (i.e. frequent lifting of 25 pounds, occasional lifting of 50 pounds). If her/his eyesight is bad, but NOT 20/200 her/his ability to do such medium work is limited. Light (Defined as lifting 20 pounds frequently, 10 pounds occasionally or on one's feet more the 2 hours a day) and Sedentary work (defined as not being on one feet more then 2 hours a day AND lifting no more then 10 pounds).

Second, apply to your states Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. All states have such offices, it was part of the Social Security Act and most of the funding comes from the Federal Government, but operated by the States. Most times they dislike dealing with people over age 50, but apply the worse they can say is no.

Side note: Technically you start getting Social Security on the sixth month after you became disabled (if you apply for it before that date). This six month delay was in the original Social Security Act for in the 1930s, it wa believed that such a time period was needed to set up some one getting Social Security. Congress has never reduced this time period even as computers sped up the process.

On the other hand, during that six month period you can get Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI was set up in 1974 to help those people who were disabled but NOT eligible for Social Security Disability. SSI payment in 2014 is $721.00 a month (less any other income including Social Security).

Do to the difference is when a person can be eligible for Social Security Disability AND SSI, people can be eligible for both programs at different times during their disability.

That may be the situation in this case. For the first six months after the onset of a disability you are NOT eligible for Social Security do to the above mentioned six months delay. On the other hand SSI has NO SUCH DELAY but you can only get SSI from date of application NOT from date of disability plus six months (Which can be BEFORE the date of application for Social Security Disability). i.e you get SSI of $721 for six months (actually two months, SSI goes up in January to $733 a month, thus you would get $733 Starting January 2015). On the sixth month you are disabled, Social Security Disability will kick in and the SSI amount will drop to Zero (Unless the disability amount is less then the SSI amount, then the SSI is reduced by the amount of Social Security disability you get).

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Response to happyslug (Reply #35)

Wed Nov 5, 2014, 11:39 PM

36. Wow, this is very helpful.

Thank you.

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Response to snot (Reply #36)

Thu Nov 6, 2014, 12:38 AM

37. For more information on the HOW Social Security decides a case go to the following:

 

http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1141&pid=28

In that thread I posted my outline of the Sequential evaluation system of SSA:

THE FOLLOWING PAGES ARE MEANT AS A GUIDE ONLY. THE EXACT SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION (SSA) REGULATIONS ARE TO COMPLEX TO BE EXPLAINED IN A SHORT PAPER. THE FOLLOWING PAGES ARE TO GIVE YOU, THE CLAIMANT, AN IDEA OF HOW SSA WILL DETERMINE WHETHER YOU ARE ELIGIBLE FOR BENEFITS.

DISABILITY DECISION TREE USED BY SSA TO DETERMINE DISABILITY:

The following is the systematic method used by SSA to determine whether someone is disabled or not. It is included with this form for your information on HOW SSA will determine if you are disabled or not.

1. Is claimant engaged in substantial gainful activity (SGA)? (20 CFR § 404.1571 et seq). SGA is defined as earning more than $1000 per month (The number changes each year, but for our purposes $1000 is good enough, the exact amount is higher almost $1100 in 2014).
If you are earning, $1000 or more per month you are NOT disabled.
If you are earning less than $1000 the Claimant Proceeds to Step Two (2).
.
2. DOES CLAIMANT HAVE A SEVERE IMPAIRMENT? (A DEMISE TEST).{(20 CFR § 1520(b)}. This test is designed to eliminate anyone who is not suffering from any impairment. "Demise" is Latin for minor or insignificant. If you are suffering from any impairment that affects your day to day activities you survive Step Two.

3. Does claimant have an impairment that meets a listing? {20 CFR § 404.1520(d)}.
IF YES, Than the claimant is disabled; IF NO, Than you go to Step 3.
The listing of impairments are listed in Appendix 1 to the Social Security Regulations.
If you met the requirements of any listing or combination of listings you are disabled.
If you do not met the requirements of any listing or combinations of listing you proceed to Step Four (4)

4. Is claimant able to perform past relevant work. {20 CFR § 1520 (e)}
If YES, Claimant is NOT Disabled. If NO, go to Step Five (5).

5. a. Does Claimant have a exertional impairment?
If no go to Step 5c, If yes than go to Step 5b
b. Is claimant disabled under the "Tables". SSA refers to Appendix 2 of the SSA regulations as the "Tables". The "Tables" are decisional trees to help ALJs decide whether someone is disabled or not. If you are "disabled" under the "Tables" you are disabled, if not go to step 5c.

THE TABLES (Simplified):
HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION OR MORE
TO BE DISABLED
AGE 60-65 -TO BE DISABLED YOU MUST BE INCAPABLE OF DOING "HEAVY WORK".
AGE 55-59 - TO BE DISABLED YOU MUST BE INCAPABLE OF DOING "MEDIUM WORK".
AGE 50-55 - TO BE DISABLED YOU MUST BE INCAPABLE OF DOING "LIGHT WORK".
AGE BELOW 50 - TO BE DISABLED YOU MUST BE INCAPABLE OF DOING "SEDENTARY WORK".
*********************************************************************************
LESS THAN HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION BUT MORE THAN 7 YEARS OF SCHOOLING.- "LIMITED EDUCATION" - Same as for High School or More Grid.
*********************************************************************************
LESS THAN 7 YEARS OF SCHOOLING.-"MARGINAL EDUCATION" Same Test as for High School or More Grid.
*********************************************************************************
ILLITERATE - TO BE DISABLED - Same as for High School or More Grid.
EXCEPT: The test for "SEDENTARY WORK" starts at age 45.
c. Does claimant have a significant non-exertional impairment? If either yes or no go to Step 5d.

d. Can the claimant perform other work as it is perform in the national economy. {20 CFR § 404.1520 (f)}
If yes, Claimant is NOT disabled.
If no, Claimant is disabled.

This is where they will decide whether your child's father is elegible for SSI.

VOCATIONAL GUIDELINES -_NOTES - 20 CFR § 404 and 416 of Appendix 2

NOTE #1: The regulations are always Changing this is meant as a gudielnes of the regulations NOT the regulations themselves.

Note # 2: The exertional limitations stated in the “Simplified Tables” ONLY APPLIES TO CLAIMANTS WHO SURVIVE TO PARAGRAPH 5d on the Sequential Evaluation Process (page 17). Step 5 is after the ALJ has made a finding of not meeting a listing (Step 3), a finding of in-ability to return to past relevant work (Step 4) and a finding that the claimant is suffering from an severe impairment (Step 2).

Note #3: Age, education, exertional limitations and past work experience are the main factors considered by SSA when SSA determines whether a claimant is capable or not capable of performing work as it is performed in the national economy.

Note # 4: WARNING: If a claimant has a skilled or semi-skilled experience and those skills are transferable to other jobs that exist in the national economy, such a claimant can never be disabled.

Note #5: These Vocational Guidelines is a vocational determination, not a medical determination, but it is a vocational determination based on the testimony of the limitation of the claimant and the medical records. Generally a Vocational Expert (VE) will attend the SSA hearing and will testify to the following:
1. Whether the past relevant work of the claimant is skilled or semi-skilled;
2. Whether the skills are transferable; and
3. What other jobs can a person with the disabilities of the claimant perform.

Note #6: The biggest factors (besides disability) in determining if a claimant is disabled are education and age. The “Simplified Guidelines” attached hereto is a Simplified BREAKDOWN OF THE "TABLES" SET FORTH IN APPENDIX 2 OF THE SSR REGULATIONS.

Note #7: For Simplicity the “Simplified Guidelines” Attached Hereto Assume No Previous Work History and Non-transferable Work Skills. Furthermore All of the “Simplified Guidelines” Assumes "Unskilled" Work Training.

SSI _ supplemental Security Income
RSDI - Retirement, Surviors, Disabilty Income (often called SSD, Social Security Disability a term I will use below):


MAJOR DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY (SSD) AND SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME (SSI). SSD (RSDI) is set by 42 U.S.C.A. § 402, SSI is set by 42 U.S.C.A. § 1381 of the Social Security Act.

Both SSI and SSDI use the same test for Disability ie. Disability is defined as being unable to do any work that exist in substantial Numbers in the National Economy

For SSD Payments Starts Six Months after the date SSA determined you first became disabled.

SSI pays for the first the month you made an Application for SSI or you became Disabiled whichever is later.

SSDI is Payed from Social Security Taxes. SSI is paid from General Funds (Income Taxes).

Both SSI and SSDI are Administrated by Social Security Administration (SSA).

A person on SSDI can be awarded disability for a period prefore he made an application (but not more than a year before), SSI will NOT pay for any period prior to the application date.

SSDI has Spouse/Survivor Benefits, SSI does not.

SSDI Payments are based on his work History and will be Roughly 60% of your his income over the ten years before the onset of your disability

SSI will pay $552.00 ($579.40 if he lived in Pennsylvania, Some state supplment the SSI grant, Pennsylvania does it by $27.40, some states give more, some states less, some states none).

SSDI is NOT Affected by other Income, SSI is REDUCED by any other income.

SSDI check hits on the Third of the Month, SSI payment hits on the First of the Month.

There are NO Asset Limitations for SSDI, but a SSI recipent can only have the following assets, One Automobile, one house he is living in, Household furnishings and $2000 in liquid assets ($3000 for a couple).

Medical Coverage of SSDI is Medicare (after a 18 month weighting period). SSI medical care i provided by Public Welfare.

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Response to snot (Original post)

Fri Jul 17, 2015, 11:56 PM

38. If legally blind at 55 then he should meet a SDI listing.

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