People struggling with medical disabilities are often unable to work as a result. In the U.S., disabled people are eligible for disability benefits that can make it easier to get by. There are two programs, both run by the Social Security Administration (SSA), intended to supplement the income of disabled individuals, each of which serves a distinct population.
The two programs are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). While the programs are similar, they are not the same. Read on to find out about the key differences between SSDI and SSI.
What Is SSDI?
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SSDI is a form of insurance that is available to U.S. workers who have paid into the program through income taxes. The system is intended for people who used to work but no longer can, and in order to be eligible, disabled workers must have earned enough credits to qualify.
Unfortunately, the SSDI system can be difficult to navigate, and many claims are denied on technicalities. When that happens, the best option is to hire an insurance disability claim laywer.
What Is SSI?
SSI is not a form of insurance. It’s a program that serves as a safety net for people with limited means who haven’t earned enough credits to qualify for SSDI. As a result, the eligibility requirements for SSI are based not on the person’s work history but on his or her financial need.
Eligibility Requirements for SSDI vs SSI
Disabled people are eligible for SSDI benefits only if they have earned 20 or more QCs, or quarters of coverage, in the past decade. Additionally, the applicant’s mental or physical disability must be expected to last for at least a year.
To determine an applicant’s SSI eligibility, the SSA considers both income and resources like cash or property. Applicants with more resources are less likely to qualify. In general, the following rules apply to SSI eligibility calculations:
1. Individuals must have $2,000 or less in cash.
Applicant’s homes are considered separately by the SSA and will not automatically disqualify an applicant.
Cars with a fair market value of $4,500 or less will not be counted as resources.
SSI benefits can also be paid to people who are 65 or older and children who are blind or otherwise disabled.
2. Benefits Calculations
The monthly payments for SSI are based on the applicant’s income and resources. Currently, the maximum federal benefit is $841 per month, but some states also supplement those benefits.
The monthly benefit amounts for SSDI are calculated differently. They are based on the eligible worker’s Social Security earnings record. In other words, the higher the person’s salary prior to becoming disabled, the higher his or her monthly benefit amount will be. It’s worth noting here that there is a five-month waiting period for receiving SSDI benefits, and workers will not receive compensation during that time.
3. Make the Smart Choice
Disabled Americans who aren’t sure how to navigate the complex systems designed to protect them from financial hardship don’t have to do it alone. They can get help not just with determining eligibility but also with filing the necessary paperwork, attending hearings, and more from a qualified disability lawyer.
In most cases, the initial consultation will be free and the lawyer will work on a contingency fee schedule, so there’s no harm in scheduling an appointment.