Although they’re both governed by the Social Security Administration, require the same types of medical eligibility, and people often use their names interchangeably, Social Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI, or SSD) are two different programs for disabled people in need.
Perhaps the biggest difference between SSI and SSDI is:
- SSI is designed to help low-income disabled individuals who either have never been employed or haven’t worked long enough to qualify for SSDI, i.e. don’t have enough SSDI credits.
- SSDI is designed to help disabled workers who have worked long enough to qualify, i.e. have earned enough SSDI credits.
If you’re confused about your eligibility, we’ve further explained each type of Social Security benefit below.
Social Security Income (SSI) Explained
As mentioned above, Social Security Income is a type of government assistance for disabled individuals who have low incomes and either haven’t worked or haven’t been employed long enough to qualify for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). Generally, this means they haven’t paid enough into the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) to qualify for SSDI.
Funded by general fund taxes, SSI is a strictly need-based program. Often referred to as a “means-tested program,” SSI is in no way related to your work history; it’s strictly related to your financial need. There are certain financial requirements you must meet to qualify for SSI.
Sometimes these requirements relate to a single individual; other times they relate to a couple. While an SSI attorney can help you determine whether you meet these financial requirements, understand that, overall, you must have an extremely limited income.
Often, disabled individuals who are eligible for Social Security Insurance are also eligible for Medicaid in their home states. Sometimes, they’re also eligible for other government assistance such as welfare benefits and food stamps, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Of course, the amount the individual receives is determined by his or her location and regular monthly income and other assets. Generally, income and assets must be exceedingly low to qualify for SSI.
SSI Benefits and Exclusions
Additionally, below is an outline of some of the most common Social Security Insurance benefits an eligible individual can receive:
- Federal Benefit Rate: The federal benefit rate (FDR) is the maximum amount of federal money you can receive each month. Typically, this amount fluctuates based on any cost-of-living adjustments.
- State Supplements: A state supplement is the amount of money a state adds to the federal assistance amount. Not every state provides a state supplement. State supplements vary by state, and take into consideration factors such as whether you are single or married and where you live (such as at home, with others, or in a nursing home or other assisted living facility).
- Earned Income Exclusions: For individuals who do earn some income, it’s possible to deduct a portion of that income before it gets deducted from your overall SSI payment.
- In-Kind Support and Maintenance: If you receive other forms of assistance, such as shelter and food from other individuals like family members, the Social Security Administration could deduct this assistance and it could affect your overall SSI benefits.
Keep in mind that these are general guidelines. For fuller explanations – especially based on your exact situation – it’s best to contact the Social Security Administration or an attorney who specializes in Social Security Income benefits.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Explained
Social Security Disability Insurance (often shortened to SSDI or just SSD) is a type of government assistance that applies to disabled individuals who have worked long enough to qualify for SSDI credits. This means they’ve paid enough into the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) via taxes to qualify for SSDI.
Funded through payroll taxes, SSDI must be younger than 65 (i.e. before you reach retirement age) and have earned enough SSDI work credits (work credits are based on a dollar amount that’s calculated annually). Typically, SSDI recipients also are eligible for Medicare after two years of being on SSDI.
Sometimes, the spouse and minor dependents of a person receiving Social Security Disability Insurance also are eligible for benefits in the form of partial or auxiliary benefits.
SSDI Benefits and Exclusions
Below are some of the factors that affect Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and exclusions:
- Work Credits: Again, work credits are based on a dollar amount and calculated annually. Often, work credits fluctuate depending on your age and how long you’ve worked. Work credits help determine whether you’re eligible for SSDI and how much SSDI you receive.
- Medical Eligibility: Typically, you, your doctor(s), and your SSDI attorney must prove medical eligibility, i.e. that you suffer from a severe, long-term, total disability that prevents you from working for at least one year.
- SSDI Approval: Many people aren’t approved the first time they apply for SSDI, and generally they don’t start receiving benefits until a certain number of months have passed after they’re approved. Once they’re approved, they might be eligible for back pay.
- SSDI Denial: Most people are denied SSDI benefits the first time they apply. An individual can appeal an SSDI denial, often called filing a Request for Consideration. If the person is denied a second time, he or she usually can request a hearing with a Social Security Administration administrative law judge.
Again, these are general guidelines. Laws are subject to change. Given these possible changes and the intricate nature of applying for SSDO benefits and appealing any SSDI denials, you can see why it’s best to consult an attorney with experience in SSDI benefits cases.
Are You Eligible for SSDI?
If you feel you’re eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance and ready to file for SSDI, contact the law offices of Scott J. Sternberg & Associates right away.
Serving West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, and Orlando, we can help you with issues such as:
- Providing medical evidence of your disability. You must be able to prove you have a disability and the specific nature of that disability.
- Proving the severity of your disability. Are you able to perform any basic work-related tasks?
- Your current employment status. Are you currently employed? Were you let go or did you have to quit due to your disability?
- Whether your disability affects your ability to perform basic work-related tasks. If so, how long is it expected that your disability will hinder you from performing these tasks.
- How well you can perform other work (and even if you can).
- The ways your disability has affected your daily life. Are you able to sit, stand, or walk for long periods of time? Can you cook, clean, and otherwise keep house? Are you able to enjoy extracurricular activities?
The court will look at each of these factors and more. That’s why it’s important you have a skilled attorney with experience in SSDI benefits on your side. Give us a call at 561-687-5660 to schedule your free consultation today or visit us online.