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Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income: Understanding the Difference

Our firm assists clients receive entitled benefits through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). In addition to SSDI, the federal government provides Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for people in need. What is the difference between these two important programs?

A primary difference between SSDI and SSI is the means by which the two programs are funded. SSDI is an insurance program that provides benefits should you be disabled. Through years in the workforce, your FICA payroll taxes fund your participation in SSDI. Your dependents may be eligible for auxiliary benefits through SSDI when you become eligible. Without sufficient time in the workforce, you are not eligible for SSDI.

Eligibility for SSI is not based upon years in the workforce, but upon need, including old age, impoverishment, disability and the underlying citizenship status needed to access federal programs.

Some similarities and differences between these programs include:

  • Recipients of SSDI can become eligible for Medicare after two years, SSI recipients may immediately be eligible for Medicaid.
  • The payment rate for SSDI is based on your earnings record, while payment of SSI is calculated on the present federal rate.
  • Determining disability for either program is based on the same strict criteria. Benefits are not paid for partial disability. Your disability must render you unable to do the work you did before, leave you unable to adjust to new work and last more than a year or result in death.

SSDI and SSI are important resources for disabled individuals. Because denial of Social Security disability claims is common, speak with an experienced SSDI attorney before filing to ensure your benefits application is correct the first time.

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