SSDI vs. SSI – Know How to Tell the Difference

SSDI vs. SSI – Know How to Tell the Difference

The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers two programs established to assist disabled individuals financially who are unable to earn wages sufficient to support themselves and/or their families. The two programs are Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

While both programs have similar medical eligibility guidelines to establish that the applicant is disabled, the SSA separately administers each program. There are some distinct differences in the non-medical eligibility criteria for applicants. Read on for more information about SSDI vs. SSI.

Basics of SSI

SSI is a need-based program for individuals with disabilities. The program is funded by general fund taxes, and eligibility for benefits is determined by a person’s income and assets. The applicant’s work history is not a factor in determining eligibility, but to qualify for benefits, he or she may not have more than $2,000 in assets or $3,000 for a couple. Income must be limited or non-existent to meet the requirements of SSI.

The benefit payment received each month is dictated by any other income and the beneficiary’s area of residence. Payments typically commence on the first day of the month.SSI beneficiaries, due to their limited income and assets, often are entitled to Medicaid and other support programs such as food stamps.

Basics of SSDI

One of the key differences between SSDI vs. SSI is that SSDI is not a need-based program. SSDI is a program funded through payroll taxes, and an individual must qualify for SSDI by working for a specified number of years during which he or she contributed to the Social Security trust fund via FICA Social Security taxes.

To qualify, a person must have sufficient Social Security work credits (workers earn up to four per year, and required number of credits depends on age). Benefits are not available until a person is disabled for a period of five months.

After receiving SSDI benefits for two years, a disabled individual may qualify for Medicare. The beneficiary’s spouse and dependent children may be entitled to partial SSDI benefits as part of the program. These payments are called auxiliary benefits.

Individuals who are younger than 18 or older than 65 are ineligible for SSDI. These individuals may qualify for SSI or Social Security retirement benefits.

Medical Eligibility Requirements for SSI and SSDI

The process for determining medical eligibility, or disability, is the same for SSI and SSDI. The SSA does not make the determination regarding disability status but works with state agencies called Disability Determination Services (DDS).

A disability claims examiner will review an applicant’s file and will request any additional medical records or information needed to make a ruling on disability. The claims examiner will seek answers to questions such as the following to determine an applicant’s level of disability and determine eligibility for benefits. 

  • Is the applicant working?
  • How severe is the applicant’s condition?
  • Does the applicant’s condition exist on the Social Security Listing of Impairments?
  • Can the applicant work full-time?

Those who have difficulty establishing that they are disabled and meet SSA criteria for disability may seek legal representation from a disability attorney.

Get Disability Legal Help from Rob Levine, the Heavy Hitter 

Rob Levine is dedicated to helping people with disabilities obtain the benefits they need. Our firm understands the challenges of successfully completing the application process, answering requests for information and filing necessary appeals. Rob Levine can help you during this challenging time so you can focus on other aspects of your life. Call 1-866-LAW-SSDI to set up a consultation with Rob Levine & Associates today.

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