There are two federally funded programs run by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that provide benefits to those who are considered disabled. They are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Social Security Retirement is also a federally funded program run by the SSA, but it provides retirement benefits to individuals who reach a certain age.
SSDI benefits are funded by the Social Security tax fund. Individuals who qualify for SSDI must have enough credits in their work history to qualify for monthly payments. It is important to know that applicants who are applying for SSDI must have paid Social Security taxes on their wages long enough to qualify for benefits. This means that all applicants who qualify for SSDI must have a steady work history. The work credit requirements can be less for younger applicants under the age of 22 because they can use their parents' work credits on their application.
Applicants who do not have a steady work history (or any work at all) can apply and qualify for SSI. To qualify for SSI, applicants must either be over the age of 65, or be legally blind, and/or have a disability and the total number of assets for the whole family is less than $3000. "Assets" that are considered by the SSA include income, pensions, inheritance, stocks, real estate and cash savings.
The similarities between SSDI and SSI are: 1.) Both are designed to provide income and health insurance to people who can no longer work due to a medical impairment(s); 2.) Both are run by the Social Security Administration; 3.) Both utilize the same definition of what it means to be disabled; 4.) Both utilize the same process to determine if you are disabled; 5.) The decision you receive for your disability claim is “the answer” for both programs; 6.) Both programs utilize the same denial and appeal process.
The differences between SSDI and SSI are: 1.) SSDI eligibility is based on work credits. If you have worked 5 of the previous 10 years, you generally meet the non-medical eligibility requirements; 2.) SSI has nothing to do with work credits! Work credits are not a requirement of this program; 3.) The amount you receive under SSDI is based on the strength of your work history, and can exceed $2,500 per month; 4.) The amount you receive under SSI is the same throughout the country – currently $733 per month (plus some states have modest supplements to this amount, generally $10 or $20 per month); 5.) Eligibility for SSDI includes eligibility for Medicare 24 months following your date of entitlement to SSDI benefits; 6.) Eligibility for SSI includes eligibility for Medicaid starting on the date of your Initial Application for disability benefits; 7.) Your date of entitlement to benefits under SSDI is 5 months following your established onset date; 8.) Your date of entitlement to benefits under SSI is generally the month following the month in which your claim was filed, assuming the decision is fully favorable (as opposed to partially favorable).
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