The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains two types of disability programs that are designed to provide benefits for those who are unable to provide for themselves. While both programs offer benefits that are payable to those with disabilities, the programs are very different. In this blog we consider the distinctions between Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). If you have more specific filing questions, please contact our experienced attorneys for legal counsel.
Social Security Disability Insurance – What’s That?
Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, is the type of disability program that people are probably most familiar with. This type of benefit program provides benefits to disabled or blind workers who are “insured” by virtue of contributions to the Social Security trust fund. As such, only those who have contributed to Social Security during their working years, and have earned sufficient work credits will be able to qualify for SSDI benefits. How many work credits a person needs depends upon the age at which they become disabled, but the SSA explains that most people need 40 credits. This requirement prevents children from qualifying for SSDI benefits.
In addition to having earned work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits, an individual must also have a qualifying disability. A disability must be “total,” which means that it is not partial or short-term, and completely prevents a person from working and has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death.
Understanding Supplemental Security Income
Unlike SSDI benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are paid to both children and adults alike who are blind or disabled. Aged persons may also qualify for SSI benefits. To qualify for SSI benefits, a person does not need to have earned work credits during their working years, but instead, must be of limited income and resources. The more income and resources a person has, the less their monthly benefit amount will be. If a person has an income amount that is greater than the income limit, they will be barred from recovering SSI benefits.
It’s important to note that the definition for a disability is slightly different between SSDI and SSI benefits. For SSDI, the disability must be severe enough to prevent a person from doing the work they did before or performing other work. On the other hand, for SSI the condition or impairment must result in “marked and severe functional limitations” for a child, or result in “the inability to do any substantial gainful activity” for an adult.
Recovering Both SSDI and SSI Benefits
In some cases, a person may receive concurrent benefits, which means that they are receiving both SSDI and SSI benefits. This might be possible for workers who became disabled young or learned a low income during their working years (thereby resulting in few work credits), and as such receive SSDI benefits that are low enough that they do not breach the income limit for SSI benefits.
Learn More About SSDI and SSI – Work with an Experienced Disability Attorney
If you are disabled and need income assistance benefits to support yourself, understanding the differences between SSDI and SSI benefits and which one you may qualify for is important. It’s also key that you understand the best methods for filing for benefits and strategies for claim approval; thousands of disability benefit claims are denied every year.
At the law offices of Whibbs Stone Barnett Turner, PA, our knowledgeable Social Security disability attorneys can guide you through everything you need to know about which benefit program you may qualify for, how to apply for benefits, and how to appeal a denied claim. To schedule a consultation, please feel free to visit our office in person, send us a message using the online form found on our website, or call us directly at 1-888-219-4561.