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Understanding SSI and SSDI

By Kenton Koszdin on September 6, 2018 | In Disability Insurance

Understanding SSI and SSDI

If you are disabled and applying for Social Security Administration benefits, you may be confused as to whether you should apply for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) or SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance). There are several differences, meaning you may be able to receive both. The following 7 questions are frequently asked by applicants and show the various differences between both programs. Speaking to a disability lawyer if you have any questions about SSI and SSDI is recommended.

Have You Worked Prior to Becoming Disabled?

The SSI program is based on the financial needs of the applicant while SSDI is based on the work credits earned prior to becoming disabled. SSDI is classified as insurance-based because the applicant has worked and paid into the trust fund in the event they do need it in the future. The funds for SSI payments are taken out of the general tax fund because those disabled persons haven’t paid into the trust fund.

How Much Will You Receive?

Those who qualify for SSDI will likely receive more than those who receive SSI. This is because SSDI is based on work credits and how much you’ve paid into the trust fund. Most people have been paying into it for quite a while before becoming disabled and SSDI will give them higher income. The base rate for SSI is calculated by the Federal Benefit Rate, or FBR, but you may receive less than the FBR depending on your living situation, income you do have other than SSI, and several other factors.

What’s the Approval Rate for SSI compared to SSDI?

Since those who have worked prior to applying for disability benefits have paid into the insured SSDI program, they are more likely to have their application approved. Because the SSI program requires a financial need, many people don’t qualify for it as they currently have income or assets that can be used to support them.

Is There an Age Requirement?

While SSI can be awarded to those who are disabled but are already receiving SSA retirement benefits, SSDI cannot. If the SSA retirement amount is lower than the FBR, SSI may be used to supplement the retirement benefit. To get the SSDI benefit, you need to be under the age of 65 and not receiving SSA retirement income. In most cases, once someone on SSDI has reached retirement age, they will switch over to the retirement benefit completely.

Are There Requirements on Current Income and Assets?

There are no requirements to apply for SSDI based on your current income and assets, so long as you are defined as disabled based on the SSA guidelines. However, because SSI is need-based, applicants need to show limited or no income and have less than $2,000 in assets for an individual or $3,000 in assets for a couple.

What Insurance Will You Receive on Disability Benefits?

Most people receiving SSI also fit into the need-based requirements for Medicaid and will most likely receive it as their form of health insurance. Those with SSDI are eligible to receive Medicare after just two years.

Is There a State Supplement to SSI or SSDI?

There are only a few states that don’t supplement the SSI benefit. In the state of California, your SSI from the Social Security Administration can be supplemented with an additional almost $200 per month. This supplement is not an entitlement, however. The amount will increase or decrease with the cost of living in your area.

While both SSI and SSDI are managed by the SSA, they are very different programs with different eligibility requirements. If you are in the Los Angeles area and need to apply for disability benefits but don’t know the one for which you are eligible, or if you need help applying for the right benefit, you can call the Law Offices of Kenton Koszdin for a free consultation regarding your needs.

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