Thinking of filing for disability benefits? Did you know that a mere 35% of cases are approved and the average wait time for a decision is 600 days? Knowledge is power with SSA, and this is the first in a series of posts about the disability application process.
“What exactly am I applying for? SSDI and SSI? How do I know what I’ll qualify for?”
According to nolo.com, the main difference between Social Security Disability (SSD, or SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is the fact that SSD is available to workers who have accumulated a sufficient number of work credits, while SSI disability benefits are available to low-income individuals who have either never worked or who haven’t earned enough work credits to qualify for SSD.
While many people don’t distinguish between SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), they are two completely different governmental programs. While both programs are overseen and managed by the Social Security Administration, and medical eligibility for disability is determined in the same manner for both programs, there are distinct differences between the two.
What Is SSI?
Supplemental Security Income is a program that is strictly need-based, according to income and assets, and is funded by general fund taxes. SSI is called a “means-tested program,” meaning it has nothing to do with work history, but strictly with financial need. 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.
Disabled people who are eligible under the income requirements for SSI are also able to receive Medicaid in the state they reside in. Most people who qualify for SSI will also qualify for food stamps, and the amount an eligible person will receive is dependent on where they live and the amount of regular, monthly income they have. SSI benefits will begin on the first of the month when you first submit your application.
What Is SSDI?
Social Security Disability Insurance is funded through payroll taxes. SSDI recipients are considered “insured” because they have worked for a certain number of years and have made contributions to the Social Security trust fund in the form of FICA Social Security taxes. SSDI candidates must be younger than 65 and have earned a certain number of “work credits.” After receiving SSDI for two years, a disabled person will become eligible for Medicare.
Under SSDI, a disabled person’s spouse and children dependents are eligible to receive partial dependent benefits, called auxiliary benefits. However, only adults over the age of 18 can receive the SSDI disability benefit.
There is a five-month waiting period for benefits, meaning that the SSA won’t pay you benefits for the first five months after you become disabled. The amount of the monthly benefit after the waiting period is over depends on your earnings record, much like the Social Security retirement benefit.
Luckily, since the process is so long, by the time you get around to the approval part, this five month wait period will not matter as much. If you are denied, there are procedures in place that will allow you to appeal and take your case to a hearing level.
Up Next: Medical Eligibility for Disability Benefits