We were honored to have Huntley Forrester help us understand and distinguish SSI and SSDI, and the allowances Social Security makes to allow you to work and keep your benefits. Mr. Forrester, who spoke to our chapter on August 10, is a Project Director of NJWINS (New Jersey Work Incentive Network Support), whose mission is to enable beneficiaries with disabilities to make informed choices about work. Social Security wants you to work, if you can, and funds NJWINS to help you work and keep your benefits to the maximum extent allowed.
NJWINS assists persons receiving benefits from two Social Security programs, SSI and SSDI. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is based on disability and financial need. No work history is required, but to collect your financial resources must be below a limit ($2,000 if single). Any income from work may reduce your benefit.
You are entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) if you once worked and have become disabled. The amount you receive depends on your work history. There is no means test. Even Microsoft’s Bill Gates, explained Mr. Forrester, can collect SSDI should he become disabled. The incentive programs for SSDI allow you to work and keep your full benefits for months regardless of income, and continue to receive benefits in part or in full for up to an additional three years depending on how much you make.
If you are collecting SSI or SSDI, and would like to work, visit njwins.org where you can find out who to contact, based on your county of residence, for assistance. You can also refer to the Social Security web site for information about SSDI and SSI.