Residents of Massachusetts who are unable to work due to a disability, and who expect to be unable to work for at least twelve months, are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), two disability programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
The application process is the same in every state. The disability determination process, however, is somewhat different in every state.
After you apply for Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Benefits through your local Social Security office, Disability Determination Services (DDS), a Massachusetts state agency, makes the actual decision on your disability claim. DDS has two offices, one in Boston and one in Worcester, and can be reached at 800-422-7200.
SSDI payments are based on the amount of FICA taxes you paid into the Social Security system while you were employed.
SSI payments vary based on a number of factors. If you are single and responsible for your full living expenses, your federal SSI check will be $710. If you are married to another SSI recipient and you are responsible for full living expenses, you will each receive $533.
In addition, you are eligible for an SSI Supplement through the Massachusetts State Supplement Program (SSP). You will receive your SSI check from the Social Security Administration, and your supplemental check from the Massachusetts State Supplement Program (SSP).
If you are living independently and paying for your full living costs, you are eligible for a Massachusetts state supplement of $114.39. If you are living in someone else's household, your state supplement will be $87.58. You can get significantly more if you are residing in a rest home or assisted living facility (unless it's paid for by Medicaid). The rates for eligible couples also differ. See the 2013 SSP rates to determine the exact amount of your SSI benefit and supplement.
Until 2012 the Massachusetts State Supplement Program was administered by SSA, but now it is managed by two MA agencies, the Department of Transitional Assistance and the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind.
You can reach SSP Customer Service at 877-863-1128 or, if you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can receive services through www.mass.gov/massrelay.
If you qualify for SSDI, after you have been receiving SSDI benefits for two years, you will be eligible for federal Medicare. You can apply for MassHealth (Massachusett's Medicaid program) until you get enrolled in Medicare.
If you are found eligible for SSI, you will automatically be eligible for MassHealth. For information about applying for MassHealth, see the website for MassHealth Benefits or call MassHealth at 800-841-2900.
If you are denied disability benefits that you think you deserve, don't hesitate to appeal -- you have only 60 days from the date of the denial letter. Unfortunately, appealing can take a long time -- you have to first request a "reconsideration" from DDS and then request a hearing with a Social Security judge. Sometimes having a disability lawyer can speed up that process -- either by getting you approved at the reconsideration level by presenting new evidence or bringing a good argument, or by requesting an "on-the-record" decision rather than waiting for a hearing date. To ask a lawyer about your prospects on appeal, request a free consultation with a disability lawyer in your area.