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  • Christopher Le

What Is the Difference Between Social Security Disability (SSDI) and SSI?

Did you know there are two different social security disability programs? Both programs offer monthly benefits but the eligibility requirements are very different. The main difference between Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is that SSDI is available to workers who have worked and built up a sufficient number of work credits, whereas SSI disability benefits is a needs based program and is only available to low-income individuals who have very limited work history, or who hasn't earned enough work credits to qualify for SSDI. It is possible to qualify for both programs though.

The SSDI and SSI programs two completely different government programs. While both programs are managed by the Social Security Administration, and the determination of being disabled is decided in the same manner for both programs, there are big differences between the two.

What Is SSI?

Supplemental Security Income is a program that is strictly needs-based. This means that your income and assets will affect your eligibility for benefits under this program. This program is funded by general fund taxes and not from the Social Security trust fund. SSI has nothing to do with your work history, and is strictly based on your financial need. So even if you are medically disabled, if you are over the income and asset limit allowed, you will not be eligible for SSI benefits. To meet the SSI income requirements, you must have less than $2,000 in assets (or $3,000 for a couple) and a very limited income.

If you are found disabled under the SSI program, you will also receive Medicaid assistance. In addition, if found disabled, SSI benefits will typically start from the date you filed your application. So if you file your claim for SSI on 1/1/2020 and you are found disabled on 5/1/2020, your back award will retro back to 1/1/2020.

What Is SSDI?

Social Security Disability Insurance is funded through payroll taxes. When you work, a portion of your earnings are deducted for payroll taxes. You pay a portion and your employer pays a portion. If you have worked for a certain number of years full time, you should have enough credits to be considered "insured". Your insured status is extremely important in determining if you are or are still eligible for SSDI. As long as you can prove your disability existed prior to the expiration of your "insured" status, you meet the requirements for SSDI. An SSDI recipient will be eligible for Medicare 2 years after they begin receiving SSDI benefits. For example, if you begin receiving SSDI on 1/1/2020, you will not be eligible for Medicare until 1/1/2022. This is a lot different than SSI because under the SSI program, Medicaid kicks in on the date you are found disabled.

Also, another benefit of SSDI, is that a disabled person's spouse and children dependents are eligible to receive auxiliary benefits. These are additional benefits on top of the SSDI benefits you are already receiving.

There is also a 5 month waiting period for benefits. This means that you have to wait 5 months after you are deemed disabled to collect SSDI checks. For example, if you are found disabled on 1/1/2020 under the SSDI program, your first check will begin on 5/1/2020. After the 5 month waiting period, the amount of SSDI benefits you receive monthly depends on your earnings record. For example if you are a high wage earner, since you have likely paid more into the social security trust fund, you will likely receive a larger monthly check than someone who is considered a low wage earner.

If you have any questions regarding which program you may qualify for, please give us a call at 210-885-3408. We'd be glad to assist.

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