Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are the largest Social Security programs in the country. Both are run by the Social Security Administration, and they’re both designed to provide financial support to individuals who are disabled. Yet, despite their similar acronyms and overlapping missions, these two programs are distinct in several crucial ways. So, let’s break it down and make sense of the differences between SSDI and SSI with the help of an SSI attorney.
Deciphering the Qualification Puzzle
One of the major differences between SSDI and SSI lies in who qualifies for each program.
SSDI is a lifeline for those with physical or mental impairments so severe that they’re unable to continue their normal jobs or any substantial work. The disability, in this case, must be of a long-term nature, expected to last for at least a year or, unfortunately, lead to death.
SSI, on the other hand, is a safety net program. This program supports individuals who are disabled (usually based on the same definition used for SSDI), blind, or aged 65 and older. However, to be eligible for SSI, individuals must have extremely limited income and assets.
The Road to Qualification: Earned vs Need-based
How one qualifies for SSDI and SSI is another point of divergence.
SSDI is an earned benefit. Like Social Security retirement benefits, SSDI eligibility is tied to your work history and the Social Security taxes you’ve paid. The length of work needed to qualify depends on your age when you become disabled. Also, SSDI can provide additional benefits to the spouses and children of disabled workers. And, if you’ve been disabled since childhood, you might qualify for SSDI based on a parent’s record, even if you’ve never worked.
SSI, however, isn’t linked to your work history. You can be eligible for SSI even if you’ve never worked or paid Social Security taxes. The key factor here is your income and financial resources, like bank accounts and property, which must not exceed strict limits. However, not all income and assets count against these caps. Certain exceptions are made for things like the value of your home and a portion of your work earnings.
Behind the Financing Curtain
The financing and administration of SSDI and SSI are as different as night and day.
SSDI has been around since 1956, when amendments to Social Security’s rules allowed benefit payments to disabled workers. Both workers and employers fund this program through payroll taxes, with benefits paid out of Social Security’s Disability Insurance Trust Fund. The amount you receive is based on your earnings history, with the estimated average monthly SSDI benefit in 2023 being about $1,483.
SSI, however, is not funded by Social Security taxes. Instead, it’s paid out of the general revenues collected by the Treasury Department to run the U.S. government. The Social Security Administration was put in charge of SSI when it was established in 1972 to replace a patchwork of state programs. Additionally, most states offer supplemental benefits to SSI recipients on top of the federal payment.
The Common Thread
While SSDI and SSI differ in many respects, they do share some similarities. For one, both use the same medical criteria and process to determine disability eligibility. The medical condition must be expected to last at least a year or result in death and must prevent you from doing most work.
Both programs also require substantial medical evidence to support a disability claim. Although you can apply online for SSDI, and in some instances for SSI, the process usually includes an in-person or phone interview with a Social Security representative.
Get a Free Case Evaluation from an SSI Attorney by Contacting Second Chance Lawyer – Merryl Jones
If you’re finding the SSI or SSDI application process overwhelming or if your initial application has been denied, don’t give up. Help is at hand with Second Chance Lawyer – Merryl Jones. Request a free case evaluation today to find out whether you qualify for Social Security disability benefits.