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When a concurrent Title II and Title XVI case is awarded, the claim goes to the local Field Office for a determination of SSI benefits. This process takes some time, because the claim specialist at the field office needs to make an appointment to call the claimant to document the claimant’s income and assets to determine financial eligibility (SSI is a need-based program). Then the claim gets sent to the Payment Center, where Title II benefits are calculated, and then the SSI benefits offset the Title II benefits. Therefore, concurrent cases typically take several weeks longer to get paid than straight Title II-only disability claims. This is frustrating, because the SSI claimants are the ones who often need to money the most.

The monthly Title II disability benefit (PIA) is usually greater than the monthly Title XVI SSI amount. And while the SSI benefits begin to accrue on the filing date of the claim, the disability benefit is not paid until after the 5-month waiting period after the onset date. To evaluate these payment issues, you need to compare the filing date with the onset date, and know that the eligibility date for Title II is 5 full calendar months after the onset date.

So let’s look at three examples.

  1. In a case where the filing date and the onset date of disability are roughly the same, the claimant will receive SSI benefits during the 5-month Title II waiting period. After that, if the Title II monthly benefit is greater than the SSI monthly payment, the SSI benefit effectively disappears, and the claimant receives the disability payment only going forward.
  2. Sometimes a claimant has been disabled for a year or more before applying for disability. When the eligibility date is 12 or more months before the filing date (when SSI benefits would start to accrue), the claimant will never receive a net benefit from SSI when the Title II PIA is higher; that person will just receive disability benefits. In such cases, I tell the client not to pursue the Title XVI benefits, and we let the field office know. Since there is no financial benefit to the client, why not get paid faster, and save the field office all the work necessary to process an SSI claim? In these cases, without the SSI component, the claim would go right to the payment center and is paid on a faster track.
  3. But there is another situation where you want to keep that Title XVI case alive, even when the Title II monthly benefit is higher. When the eligibility date is about the same as the filing date, or maybe just one or two months before, you should keep the SSI claim. Why? Because of the way Social Security handles the attorney’s fee when calculating the Title II offset. See POMS section GN 02610.053. There is a significant benefit to the claimant by keeping the SSI claim in this situation.