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What is the difference between SSDI and SSI?

Jon Walker

SSDI and SSIThis is a question we receive frequently: what is the difference between Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)? The two programs are very similar. Both pay cash benefits to individuals who are unable to work as a result of a physical or mental medical disability that is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death. Both are administered by the Social Security Administration, with hearings conducted by Administrative Law Judges at the Social Security’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. Individuals applying for both SSDI benefits and SSI benefits go through the same process, and attorneys can be hired with the same contract agreement for both programs.

The main difference between Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and Supplemental Security Income benefits is that SSDI benefits are only available to individuals who have worked, paid Social Security taxes, and accumulated enough work credits to be insured. An individual’s finances have nothing to do with their eligibility for SSDI benefits. You could have a million dollars in the bank, but if you prove you are disabled and unable to work any job in the national economy, you are eligible to be awarded SSDI benefits. Medical disability and inability to work are the only criteria; need and financial hardship are not taken into account. When an individual is awarded SSDI benefits, they become eligible for Medicare insurance 29 months from the date they are deemed disabled.  SSDI benefits are generally higher than SSI benefits; the average monthly disability rate is $1,171.00.

SSI benefits are available to disabled individuals who have not worked or paid sufficient Social Security taxes. Like SSDI applicants, SSI applicants must establish that they have a medical disability that prevents them from working; however, unlike SSDI benefits, need and financial hardship are criteria for SSI benefits. To be eligible for SSI benefits, you must be at least 65 years, blind, or disabled, and you must have a limited income. The maximum monthly SSI benefit rate is $735.00 for an individual and $1,103.00 for a couple. SSI benefits may be reduced further if the individual lives in a household and does not pay for food and shelter, such as a parent or benevolent family member.

Generally speaking if you have worked and paid taxes, and you become disabled and are unable to work, you should be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. If you have been out of the workforce or you’ve had minimal earnings but you are unable to work as a result of a disability, Supplemental Security Insurance is available as a safety net.

Contact Chicago Social Security Disability Attorneys.

Blog Author: Jon Walker

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