SSI vs. SSDI: Differences, Benefits, and How to Apply
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are both Social Security benefits programs that are designed to provide financial assistance to disabled individuals. While both programs are under the umbrella of the Social Security Administration (SSA), there are major differences in eligibility requirements for each program. This leads to many people wondering, “Which is better SSI or SSDI?” The major differences in these disability programs will depend on which you qualify for. Some people can claim benefits under both programs.
If you are disabled and have questions about the differences between SSI and SSDI, the eligibility requirements, or how to apply for benefits, contact one of our dedicated Social Security Disability attorneys at Matt Fendon Law Group today to discuss your situation. Our team is committed to helping individuals who are living with disabilities by looking out for their interests and fighting for their rights.
What Is SSDI?
SSDI is a government program that offers benefits to qualifying individuals who have adequate work credits. For someone to qualify for SSDI benefits, they must be unable to earn a sufficient income as a result of a medical condition that is expected to last 12 months or longer or result in death. They must also have a qualifying employment history, during which time they paid into the Social Security system through payroll taxes, which fund the program.
The amount you earned at your previous jobs will dictate how much you are able to receive from SSDI. There’s also a five-month waiting period before you can receive your SSDI. Once you have received SSDI for two years, you will be eligible for Medicare.
What Is SSI?
SSI provides financial benefits to individuals with a limited income who are 65 or older, blind, or disabled. SSI is funded by general fund taxes as opposed to payroll taxes. Unlike SSDI, SSI benefits aren’t linked to work history. SSI benefits are based on a disabled individual’s financial need and are not dependent on the individual having paid into Social Security through payroll taxes.
However, there are somewhat strict qualifications for SSI eligibility. You cannot have any more than $2,000 in assets as an individual ($3,000 for a couple), and your income must be very limited. The amount you can receive each month depends on your income and your location.
What Is the Difference Between SSI and SSDI?
The Social Security Administration oversees both SSI and SSDI programs. However, there are still significant differences between the programs’ eligibility requirements. The main difference between SSI and SSDI is the employment requirement. SSDI benefits are only available to disabled individuals who have an adequate amount of work credits, while SSI benefits are available to all qualifying individuals who meet the income requirements, regardless of whether they have a work history or not.
In addition, the amount of the benefits offered may vary widely between the two programs. In 2021, the maximum federal benefit for individuals receiving SSI benefits is $794 per month, while the estimated average for monthly SSDI benefits is $1,277. A skilled Social Security Disability attorney can help you understand your best options for pursuing benefits based on your circumstances.
Eligibility Requirements for SSDI and SSI
To be eligible for either program, you will need to show that you’re unable to maintain gainful employment due to a medical impairment that is expected to last a year or longer or lead to death. The SSA maintains a list of impairments in a document called the Blue Book that describes the disabilities the SSA considers severe enough to warrant eligibility.
If your condition is not listed in the Blue Book, SSA will compare the severity of your condition to others included in the list.
For SSDI benefits, you will also need to have enough work credits to apply for SSDI. You can find out more about eligibility requirements for SSDI here.
To qualify for SSI, you must have limited income and financial resources.
Can You Collect Both SSDI and SSI?
Depending on your specific situation, you might be able to collect both SSDI and SSI at the same time. If you are disabled but only receive a small monthly payment through SSDI, you could potentially apply for SSI to obtain additional benefits.
Some people who receive SSDI benefits only receive a low monthly amount. There are various reasons for this, such as if the person has no recent employment history or earned low wages at their previous job. In these cases, you may be able to increase your monthly benefit amount by applying for SSI.
Collecting SSDI and SSI at the same time can help boost your income while you are unable to work. SSDI usually doesn’t kick in right away either, so SSI could provide you with the income you need to support yourself while you wait for your SSDI benefits to begin. Unlike SSDI, you can start receiving SSI benefits as soon as the Social Security Administration approves your application.
If you’re a disabled adult who wants to apply for SSI benefits, you can do so online. If you are applying for a disabled child who is a minor or a 65-plus-year-old senior who is not disabled, applications can’t be completed online. You will need to contact the SSA by phone at 1-800-772-1213 or visit your local Social Security office to get the application process started.
Individuals of all ages can apply for SSDI benefits online. You can also contact the SSA via phone or visit your local Social Security office to begin your application.
It is very important to familiarize yourself with the application process before applying. The SSA gets such a large volume of applications that they frequently deny applications. If you make an error on your paperwork, that might give the SSA a reason to deny your application outright. You should also ensure that your required medical records are in order when submitting your application.
Talk to a Social Security Disability Lawyer in Arizona
If you are a disabled individual and hope to apply for SSI, SSDI, or both, our team at Matt Fendon Law Group can help. Before applying for benefits, it’s best to consult with an experienced SSI/SSDI attorney. The Social Security Disability application process is complicated. A simple clerical error could result in your application being denied.
Our team will thoroughly review all of your paperwork and other documentation to ensure that everything is in order before you apply. We can also help you with your appeal if your claim is denied.
Contact us today for a free consultation. We’ll help you understand your options and the path that is best for you.