What is the Difference Between SSDI and SSI?

The Social Security Administration offers two programs that provide financial assistance to retired seniors and persons living with disabilities. These are called Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

What is SSI?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides basic financial assistance to seniors and persons with disabilities who rely on minimal income. The benefits extend to persons with disabilities of any age.

What is SSDI?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides financial assistance to individuals who have a disability and a qualifying work history. This history can be through the claimant’s own employment or a family member such as a spouse or parent.

What is defined as a disability?

The Social Security Administration has a strict definition of disability based on your capability to work and the projected length of your illness. If you are applying for SSI or SSDI benefits, you must submit all pertinent medical records. If your disability is partial or short term, you are not eligible for SSI or SSDI benefits.

What is the difference between SSI and SSDI?

The major difference between SSI and SSDI is the qualification. SSI benefits are based on age, disability, and means of income. SSDI benefits, on the other hand, are based on disability and work credits.  In most states, an SSI recipient is also automatically qualified for Medicaid benefits. Meanwhile, an SSDI recipient automatically qualifies for Medicare after 24 months of receiving the first disability payment. There is one exception – individuals who are suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) qualify for Medicare right away.

Comparing SSI and SSDI requirements and benefits

  • Eligibility

A person may be eligible for SSI benefits if they are aged 65 or older, blind (any age), living with a disability (any age), and have limited to no income.

A person may be eligible for SSDI benefits if they are disabled and have sufficient work credits.

  • Benefits

An SSI recipient will start receiving benefits in the first full month after the application is approved.

An SSDI recipient will start receiving benefits six months after the disability began.

  • Average monthly benefit

As of January 2017, an SSI recipient receives an average of $542 per month while an SSDI recipient gets an average of $1,171 monthly.

  • Maximum monthly benefit

The maximum benefit an SSI recipient can receive is $735 (single) or $1,103 (married) per month. The exact amount is determined based on income.

The maximum benefit an SSDI recipient can receive is $2,687 per month. The exact amount is based on work history.

  • Health insurance

SSI recipients automatically qualify for Medicaid while SSDI recipients have to wait 24 months before becoming eligible for Medicare. Those who have ALS do not have to go through the waiting period.

Can an individual apply for both SSI and SSDI?

It is possible to qualify for both SSI and SSDI if you have a limited income as well as a work history.

How to apply for SSI and/or SSDI

SSI applications are available online for adults with a disability. If you are applying for SSI benefits for a minor or a non-disabled adult who is 65 years old or older, you must visit your local Social Security office.

SSDI applications are available online as well as the local Social Security office

How long is the processing period for SSI/SSDI applications?

There is no definite time period for processing SSI or SSDI applications. On average, most applications are processed within three to five months from the date of filing.

What are compassionate allowances?

Individuals who are suffering from severe disabilities may not have to wait too long for their applications to be processed.

The Compassionate Allowances (CAL) classification is a way to expedite the review of SSI/SSDI applications for people with severe medical conditions such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Dravet syndrome, liver cancer, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, adult brain disorder, and rare children diseases.

The CAL initiative identifies claims that clearly meet the statutory disability standard to reduce waiting time of evaluating SSI or SSDI applications.

What to do if an SSI/SSDI application is denied

There are many reasons why social security applications are denied.  If you applied for SSI/SSDI benefits and feel that you got wrongly rejected, you should look for an advocate who is familiar with the disability policy of Social Security and experienced with the appeal process. The experienced social security lawyers at Clark Law Office can represent you in such cases. Call for an appointment today to set up a free consultation.  No fees unless you win!

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