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SSDI and SSI: What’s the Difference?

Many disabled Americans know the United States Social Security Administration (SSA) has programs for which they can apply if they are disabled, but they often do not know about the specifics of the various disability benefits programs.

question-mark-1323680-m.jpgA recent article from the Daily Local News takes a closer look at the differences between the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.

On the surface, the main difference noted in this article is the SSDI program essentially pays benefits based upon a claimant’s disability and work history, whereas SSI pays benefits based upon a claimant’s disability and a low-income level.

If you live in the greater Boston area and are in need of assistance, our disability attorneys can assist you with determining to which program you should apply based upon the facts of your particular situation, including your work history and household income level.

The Social Security Disability Insurance program operates somewhat similar to a private disability insurance program. Basically, every year you work (divided into four fiscal quarters) allows you to earn four SSDI credits. In order to qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have a requisite number of credits and a disability recognized by SSA. A recognized disability can be a single medical condition, such as End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD kidney disease). However, if you have a disability, such as missing arm, you may not qualify as being disabled for SSA purposes on this condition alone. Your attorney can help determine (with your doctor’s assistance) if you have any other medical conditions, which, if combined with your primary disability, will allow you to qualify for SSDI benefits. For example, many people who have suffered an amputation also have mental trauma such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or severe depression as a result of the injury or illness that caused the loss of an arm. When the physical and mental disabilities are looked at together, this might qualify you for SSDI benefits.

Supplemental Security Income operates somewhat differently. It is also a disability benefit, but it does not require claimants to have worked to pay into the system. However, there are strict income requirements to qualify for this program. SSI is also available to disabled children in low-income households who obviously do not have a work history.

While SSA will rigidly follow income requirements, there are certain types of income that are excluded due to the way in which the administration calculates income, so you may qualify even if you do not initially think you will. These exceptions can be very complicated, and you should speak with an experienced disability attorney to see how SSA will calculate your income for the purposes of SSI qualification.

Another difference between the two Social Security disability programs is that SSI is often available for elderly Americans who are blind or suffer from certain recognized disabilities. Many elderly people have not worked recently enough to qualify for SSDI benefits, because they have not earned the requisite number of credits.

If you are seeking Social Security Disability Insurance benefits in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Colliton: SSD or SSI: There are major differences, March 11, 2015, Daily Local News
More Blog Entries:

Hanson v. Colvin: A Critical Look by a Court of Appeals on a Denial of Benefits, August 14, 2014, Boston Disability Lawyers Blog