What Are The Differences Between SSI And SSDI?

The term “Social Security” can mean a large number of US government-based benefit programs that an individual can apply for when he or she needs it. But even though they are administered by the Social Security Administration, SSI and SSDI are two separate programs and offer two different types of benefits.

What Are The Differences Between SSI And SSDI?

What type you should apply for depends on your needs. Here, we’ll explain the difference, and you can decide for yourself which one is right for you.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

This program is a needs-based financial benefit for disabled individuals of limited means and income. Unlike Social Security received after retirement, SSI does not require “work credits.” The money comes from General Revenues, not from Social Security funds. It’s a “means-tested program,” meaning the requirements are very strict. SSI is for those who are elderly, disabled, and/or blind who need assistance paying for things like food and shelter.

Most individuals who qualify for and receive SSI will also qualify for Medicaid, the state/federal healthcare program that provides comprehensive coverage for its recipients. They may also qualify for food stamps and other assistance. The amount of SSI received will depend on the amount of consistent monthly income the individual receives. Any other income you receive can affect your SSI amount.

Any income or other “in-kind support” such as free rent, food, or other necessities that are given to you at no cost are considered “income,” and must be reported. Should your living arrangements change, such as moving in with a roommate or relative, this also must be reported, and will likely change or reduce your monthly benefit payment.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

For individuals with work history, SSDI can cover them after they become disabled. SSDI is based on an individual’s disability and work credits. SSDI will qualify an individual for Medicare after 24 months. If your assets and income are higher, SSDI is the better option.

There is a roughly 5-month waiting period before an individual begins receiving benefits once the application is received and when Social Security determines and approves the “date of onset.” SSDI payments may also be reduced if an individual is receiving another type of benefit, such as Worker’s Compensation.

Applicants for SSDI generally have a higher approval rating, since they have a work history and have had health insurance. They’ve received medical care for their disability, which is important in any disability claim. Examiners and judges also tend to find long-term employees to be more credible due to their work history, something SSI applicants may not have.

Note: individuals with ALS will qualify for Medicare immediately, with no waiting period.

Qualifying For Both SSDI And SSI

Under certain circumstances, an individual may qualify for both programs. The criteria are the same, limited income, and elderly, blind and/or disabled. Known as “concurrent benefits,” an individual must meet the requirements for both of these programs. However, both payments won’t be higher than a typical SSI payment. In other words, getting both will not “double-up” benefit payments.

Generally, SSDI provides a higher benefit amount than SSI, but SSI also takes into account factors such as other income, a person’s living situation, assets, and other variables.

The most common scenario is when an individual’s SSDI payments are low due to low wages throughout the working life, disability at a young age before building up a work history, or did not work very much in recent years.

It’s also possible that you could qualify for SSI during the five-month wait for SSDI. Once your SSDI payments begin, the SSI payment could be lowered accordingly. Medicaid would also be available immediately, whereas Medicare would be a two-year wait.

Your eligibility for one or both benefit programs is up to the Social Security office and depends on your current income and assets. Both programs utilize the same process to evaluate the disability.

Houston’s Social Security Attorney

Whether you’re applying for Social Security or Disability through Social Security, the laws are complex and the process difficult to maneuver. With an experienced disability law firm to help, you can get your application completed right the first time, and have a better chance of being awarded the benefits you deserve.

We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians get their disability benefits. The Herren Law Firm in Houston, TX can assist with your application, appeals, and records gathering to prove your case, and win your claim. Contact us today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation and no up-front fees, and we only collect a fee if we win your case.

Call Now Button