You've heard of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). But just what is the difference between the two? How do you qualify for them? Can you qualify for both?
Let's take a quick look at these two types of disability benefits offered by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
SSDI is a program that pays monthly cash benefits to workers who have become disabled. The program is funded through payroll taxes and benefit amounts are based on the disabled worker's past earnings.
SSI is a needs-based program that pays monthly cash benefits to low-income disabled individuals. The program is financed through general tax revenues and is not based on a person's work history.
Qualifying for the programs
SSDI qualification is based on your work history and whether you meet the SSA's disability criteria. Disabled workers are eligible if they have earned 20 or more quarters of coverage in the last 10 years.
SSI is based on a person's financial status and is available to those who are disabled, blind or over the age of 65. To qualify, you must have $2,000 or less in assets.
Program benefit amounts
The amount of SSDI benefits can vary dramatically between recipients because it is based on a person's work history (length of employment; wage amount; amount in payroll taxes paid in to FICA).
Because SSI is a needs-based program, it pays out a standard amount to all recipients. Currently, the maximum benefit amount is $733 for qualifying individuals and $1,100 for qualifying couples.
Can I receive both types of benefits?
If you meet the requirements of both programs, you can receive both types of benefits. This can occur where an applicant is approved for SSDI but they receive only a small monthly payment, and they are also approved for SSI because their monthly unearned income is less than $733 per month. Advantages of receiving both include potentially increasing your SSI payout to the maximum benefit amount and being eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid.
Of course, these high-level insights can be much more complicated depending on your work history, financial situation and geographic location. For additional information, be sure to contact a knowledgeable Social Security disability law firm.