Q. Both of my parents won their disability hearings with social security. My dad filed for benefits a year before my mom did. He was awarded the maximum benefits allowed. The Social Security office says my mom cannot draw any social security benefits because my dad is already drawing the max amount. Since she gets no money, she gets no medical coverage. My mom cannot get insurance because of a pre-existing condition. She cannot get on any federal medical plan because my dad’s benefits throw her out of the low-income bracket! The Social Security Administration says they cannot change my dad’s amount of benefits no matter if he signs papers saying ok. This is absolutely crazy!!! There must be a way both can have what they deserve.

A. The Social Security Administration administers two separate and very different programs. They are the wage-related Social Security insurance program and the Supplementary Security Income (SSI) program.

As I understand your inquiry, your father is receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits based on payroll tax contributions. As long as he remains too disabled to work, his SSDI benefits will continue. The Social Security Administration cannot pay him less than the full amount he is due.

If your mother were eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) based on her own earnings, she would receive her benefits without regard to the amount of your father’s benefit. Your father’s income matters, however, if the benefit your mother applied for was Supplementary Security Income (SSI). SSI is an assistance program for aged, blind or disabled persons with little or no income or assets. The income and assets of both husband and wife must be considered if an SSI applicant is married. If your father’s benefit puts your parents’ combined income over the assistance level, no SSI benefit can be paid to your mother. Your parents’ combined income also can affect your mother’s eligibility for medical assistance.

When your mother reaches age 62, she will be eligible for a Social Security spouse benefit and, at age 65, for Medicare based on your father’s Social Security earnings record.