The United States Social Security Administration (SSA) is the federal agency responsible for the oversight and administration of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. These are two different programs. While both programs are designed to provide benefits for disabled Americans, they operate differently and have different requirements for qualification for disability benefits.
In a recent news article from Public Opinion, a manager from a local SSA office explained the difference between Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income. As the manager describes, Social Security Disability Insurance is based upon the prior earnings of a disabled claimant. This program obtains funding by taxes workers pay into Social Security taxes, which are withheld from each paycheck.
Whenever you work, you earn credits towards being able to obtain benefits in the event you are injured and require SSDI benefits. The number of credits needed to obtain Social Security Disability Insurance benefits is dependent upon the age of claimant at time of disability. As this process can take as a many as two years for a claimant to get benefits, the date of disability can be set retroactively and past-due benefits will be paid in many cases.
Essentially, the program is designed to function similar to a private long-term disability benefits insurance policy. With a private insurance policy, you pay a premium and that binds your coverage, so that, in the event you become disabled, you can submit a disability benefits claim. With Social Security Disability Insurance, you pay taxes, and your tax money counts as your premium. This is why Boston disability attorneys use the term paying into the system when someone pays Social Security taxes. If you have not worked enough to accumulate enough quarterly credits, SSA will say you have not paid into the system and are, therefore, not entitled to benefits.
However, some disabled people, especially children, are not able to work at all due to age and disability. In this case, the Supplemental Security Income program may be appropriate.
SSI benefits are designed to cover adults and children who are disabled or blind and live in low-income households. The income guidelines are very strict, and, in the case of a disabled child, the child’s household income, including that earned by his or her parents, will be considered as part of a guidelines calculation. While the disability requirement is the same as the Social Security Disability Insurance program, there is no requirement for quarterly credits or that claimant has ever worked. This makes sense, since we are often dealing claimants who are children.
On the other hand, the Social Security Disability Insurance program does not take household income into account when making a determination. It is only necessary to establish claimant is disabled to the point where he or she cannot work full time, and claimant has worked long and recently enough to have amassed the requisite number of quarterly credits. The SSI program is funded through general revenues, which is why the quarterly credits requirement is not applied.
If you or a loved one is seeking Social Security Disability Insurance benefits in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Social Security: disability vs. SSI, November 16, 2015, Public Opinion, by Oscar Tores-Tores
More Blog Entries:
Social Security Disability Claims Process, Jan. 23, 2015, Boston Social Security Disability Insurance Lawyer Blog