Know Your Public Benefits

Posted date in Jason D. Lazarus, J.D., LL.M. Public Benefits

SSI (Supplemental Security Income) – payable monthly to those with low income and few resources that are age 65 or older; blind; or disabled.  This is a NEEDS BASED benefit.  One dollar of SSI automatically gets you Medicaid coverage in Florida (this varies by state).  You must meet the financial eligibility requirements on an ongoing basis. 

Medicaid – Basic health care for the indigent.  This is a NEEDS BASED benefit.  There are many Medicaid programs and they have different qualification standards.  One can qualify for Medicaid through SSI or independently.  You must meet the financial eligibility requirements on an ongoing basis. 

SSDI (Social Security Disability Benefits) – A monthly benefit for people who can’t work because they have a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death and meet the criteria for a disability.  To qualify, the recipient must meet the definition of disability and have paid in enough to the system through payroll taxes.  This is NOT a needs based benefit.  There are not asset or income requirements.  However, there are restrictions on the ability to earn while receiving SSD.  If you get SSD, you get Medicare coverage within 30 months.

Medicare – Medical coverage obtained prior to retirement age by becoming SSD eligible.  There is Part A which covers hospitalization including inpatient hospital stays, skilled nursing facilities, home health and hospice care.  There are no costs for Part A.  Part B covers physician services, some outpatient services, some preventive services, ambulance services and durable medical equipment.  There are premiums, co-pays and deductibles for Part B.  Then there is Part D prescription coverage.  Medicare is not an asset or income sensitive program although Part B premiums can be higher for people with greater income. While Medicare is not a needs based benefit, a settlement could impact eligibility and a Medicare Set Aside analysis may need to be done. 

An easy way to think about this is that there is a connection between SSI and Medicaid as well as between SSD and Medicare.  There are people who are dual eligible, but we will save them for another post!