What are the Main Differences between SSDI and SSI?

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The Social Security Administration (SSA) was established on August 14, 1935, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide income to retirees, widows, and people with disabilities who otherwise had no income to support themselves or their dependents.

Today, the SSA provides two main types of benefits for U.S. citizens: income for retirees and income for people who can no longer work due to illness or injury or people who need help meeting their basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.

The benefits for people who are unable to work or who struggle to meet their needs are divided into two categories:

Social Security Disability Insurance

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD) is an income-replacement program for people under the age of 65 who get sick or injured and is funded through payroll taxes that all American workers pay throughout the course of their working careers. These benefits are referred to as “insurance” due to the payroll taxes and the contributions that all workers make to the Social Security trust fund with each paycheck that they earn.

In order to be eligible for SSDI benefits, workers have an illness, disease, condition, or injury that not only prevents them from doing their previous jobs but also prevents them from doing similar work.

In addition, eligibility requires that workers earn a specific number of work credits—generally five years of work out of the last 10 for people aged 31 or older. The total amount of income that people can earn with SSDI benefits depends on the amount of income they earned before they got sick or injured. Most SSDI recipients earn between $1,200 and $2,500 per month in benefits.

The spouse and children of SSDI recipients can also receive partial dependent benefits—also called auxiliary benefits—to replace the income and support they received from the person whose injury or illness prevents them from working.

While SSDI benefits can greatly help families whose sole income earner is no longer able to work, it can be difficult to get approved, as the SSA has strict criteria for determining who is eligible to receive benefits.

Supplemental Security Income

Unlike SSDI benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are provided to people on a needs-basis. SSI benefits are awarded based strictly on income and assets rather than work history. Eligible recipients of SSI benefits must have less than $2,000 in assets and a very restricted or limited income.

Most people who receive SSI benefits are elderly or unable to work due to a pre-existing condition, such as blindness, paralysis, or serious disability. SSI benefits aren’t meant to replace an income and are provided to cover basic living expenses like food, clothing, and shelter.

Because SSI benefits aren’t income-based, the amount of money that recipients are entitled to is generally much lower than SSDI benefits. Most people on SSI income receive $733 per month, while couples receive $1,100 per month. Any income that recipients receive during the month outside of SSI benefits can result in deductions to their monthly SSI payments.

Some recipients of SSDI benefits are eligible to also receive SSI benefits at the same time. This typically occurs if the recipient’s SSDI benefits are lower than the $733 per month maximum, as the recipient can apply for SSI to cover any gap between their SSDI benefits and the SSI maximum monthly income.

Our Nashville Social Security Disability Lawyers Can Help You Understand Your Rights

While both SSI and SSDI are lifelines for many individuals and families, it can be difficult to navigate the application process and determine whether you’re eligible for benefits in the first place.

Matt Hardin Law’s legal team has many years of experience assisting people with serious illnesses and injuries who are unable to work get the income they need for their living expenses. We know that many initial applications are often denied, but our law firm is familiar with the SSA’s review process, and we’ll use our knowledge to create an appeal that maximizes your chances of getting approved.

To speak with our law firm today about getting the SSDI benefits you deserve, just dial (615) 200-1111 or fill out a free consultation form.

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