Understanding the Difference Between SSI and SSDI

What’s the difference between SSI and SSDI? If you’ve recently developed a disability and lost the ability to work, you should know about the benefits available to you. The United States Social Security Administration (SSA) provides two main types of programs for people with disabilities: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Make sure you understand the main differences between SSDI and SSI before you start applying.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

A federal income supplement program called SSI program is available for people with disabilities who have little or no income and limited access to resources. It is funded by general tax revenues. SSI specifically pays benefits to adults and children with disabilities, as well as people without disabilities who are 65 and older, as long as they meet the financial limits. It provides them with the cash they need to secure basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter.

Generally, anyone who is disabled, blind, or aged 65 or older can qualify for SSI if they also have limited income and resources. You will have to meet a number of other specific requirements—for example, you must be a citizen, national, or eligible alien; you must reside in the US; and you must not be confined to an institution like a hospital or prison, to name a few.

Unlike SSDI, you must stay below a certain income threshold to continue receiving SSI benefits.

The SSA has certain definitions in place for children and adults with disabilities. Children with disabilities generally have a physical or mental impairment that either severely limits their functional capabilities and can potentially lead to death, or that lasts longer than 12 months. The adult definition of disability is similar, but it involves a medically provable physical or mental impairment that prevents the adult from working (or pursuing “substantial gainful activity”). If your medical condition is serious and obvious, the SSA will try to provide your benefits as quickly as possible.

If you meet the legal and medical definition of a disabled person, and you believe you will be unable to work for a year or more, you should look into SSDI and SSI. You’ll need to complete the required application forms and send medical evidence of your disability. You should consult a knowledgeable attorney if you have any concerns about your eligibility or application status. Our lawyers can offer you advice, file your forms, and make sure you have all the appropriate documentation. We can also help you appeal a previous decision. We’ll help you secure fair compensation for your disability. 

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Also known as SSD, this federally funded program pays disability benefits to people with disabilities under certain conditions. For one, your illness or impairment cannot be partial or short-term: it must prevent you from working for at least 12 months or be expected to end in death. You must be younger than your full retirement age, and you must have worked in a job covered by Social Security long enough to qualify. You can usually continue to receive benefits until you are able to work again on a regular basis, or until you retire, at which point your disability benefits convert to retirement benefits.

While your eligibility for SSI depends on your income, SSDI can theoretically be granted to a disabled person of any income level. Benefits are paid to you and your dependent family members based on a formula applied to your past earnings.

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