National Alliance on Mental Illness
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(800) 950-NAMI; firstname.lastname@example.org
Social Security’s Programs As a Barrier to Employment
Both of Social Security’s disability programs – Disability Insurance (DI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – require that recipients have an impairment that prevents them from working at any job in the American economy with earnings above "Substantial Gainful Activity" (SGA), $785 per month. Once an individual with a disability qualifies for DI or SSI, they receive monthly cash benefits and entitlement to health care coverage – Medicaid for SSI beneficiaries, and Medicare for DI beneficiaries (after a two-year waiting period). Once on cash and health benefits, it becomes very difficult to ever get off of benefits through employment, especially part-time employment.
For many consumers, the strict eligibility rules for these programs operate as a barrier to employment.
Finally, and more important than the treat of losing cash benefits for many, is the threat of losing eligibility for health care coverage under Medicare and Medicaid.