Occasionally, we have clients who were declared disabled by the federal government and then sustain another unrelated injury, which gives rise to a personal injury claim. A client’s personal injury settlement typically has NO impact his/her Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). SSDI is a basically an insurance program paid by payroll deduction and it is NOT based on financial need. So, it makes no difference for SSDI purposes how much money you have, assuming you’re not receiving money from work. However, in the very limited situation that any of the settlement money is in the form of lost wages, your social security disability benefits may be in jeopardy.
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In order to be eligible for SSDI, you have to meet certain strict criteria, including your inability to work due a medical condition that’s expected to last at least one year or result in death. To learn more about SSDI and its eligibility requirements, check out the Social Security Administration’s publication. If you are disabled from working for a temporary period of time, there are other programs and insurance policies that may apply.

Many people often confuse this with Social Security Income (SSI), which is an income maintenance program. SSI, unlike SSDI, is a means-tested public benefit. Therefore, receiving money from a personal injury settlement while on SSI may indeed impact your SSI benefits. You would definitely need to speak to a lawyer about your individual situation if you happen to be on SSI.

By: Michael S. Raff, Esq.