When a physical or mental condition leaves you without the ability to pursue a career, navigating the different programs available can be daunting. Which programs are available to you? Will you qualify for benefits? What are the differences between these sources of support?
Two sources of support that disabled people must often consider are Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Both can offer support to people who are unable to work, but these programs are different in a variety of ways. What should people know about the differences between these programs and the benefits they offer to disabled people?
What are SSI and SSDI?
Both Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are provided to support people whose mental or physical health prevents them from engaging in the workforce. However, while both programs are intended to help disabled people, the intent and funding of these programs are different.
Supplemental Security Income is a need-based program established in 1972 and paid by taxpayers. Because people with disabilities qualify based on their financial need, fewer people generally receive these benefits.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, on the other hand, come from Social Security’s Disability Insurance Trust Fund. These benefits are funded specifically by payroll taxes paid by workers and employees. SSDI partial dependent benefits can also support that person’s spouse or children.
Who qualifies for SSI and SSDI benefits?
Those who receive Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance benefits have physical or mental conditions that prevent them from pursuing an occupation. While people receiving benefits may be able to perform some work, they cannot engage in “substantial gainful activity” and receive these benefits.
To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, recipients must be under the age of 65 and have been in the workforce for long enough to earn a certain number of work credits to be “insured” in the program. While those who qualify for SSDI benefits cannot engage in “substantial gainful activity,” the amount of property they own will not disqualify them from the program. In addition, there is a five-month waiting period before those who apply can receive benefits.
Supplemental Security Income, on the other hand, supports disabled people, blind people, and people over the age of 65 who have a limited income – including resources like free food and shelter – and limited assets. Often, these people have not worked enough to qualify for SSDI, and some may never have been able to pursue employment. This program involves strict asset limits; currently, an individual cannot have more than $2,000 in non-exempt assets to qualify for this program, and couples cannot have more than $3,000.
Do recipients of SSI or SSDI benefits qualify for Medicare, Medicaid, or other programs?
In most states, people receiving Supplemental Security Income benefits are eligible to receive other benefits as well. Generally, they qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to provide them with funds to purchase food. In most states, people on the SSI program also qualify for Medicaid to support their medical needs, and they may be able to receive other need-based assistance as well. Some states also provide additional funds to disabled people receiving benefits through this program.
People receiving Social Security Disability Income benefits, on the other hand, do not necessarily qualify for these programs. However, after a two-year waiting period, they will automatically qualify for insurance through Medicare as a means of supporting their medical needs.
How much will people receive from these programs?
Like Social Security retirement benefits, the amount received through Social Security Disability Insurance depends on a person’s earnings prior to becoming disabled. As a result, the amount that a person receives will vary depending on their earnings history. This amount will be adjusted if you receive workers’ compensation benefits or public disability benefits. According to the AARP, the estimated average payment that people receive through this program is $1,358.
Supplemental Security Income, on the other hand, is not tied to your previous earnings history. In 2022, individuals can receive up to $841 per month in SSI payments. Couples can receive up to $1,261 in assistance per month through this program. The actual amount that a person receives will depend on their countable income and whether their state offers any additional supplemental income.
Because of the impact that changes to the cost of living can have on people living with a limited income, the SSDI payments that a person receives may involve a cost of living increase compared to their initial payment amount. SSI assistance receives yearly adjustments.
Can people collect both SSI and SSDI benefits?
While Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are different, they use the same medical criteria for disability. As a result, disabled people may qualify for both programs depending on their circumstances. However, because the requirements for SSI recipients are stricter, not everyone who qualifies for SSDI benefits will also qualify for this needs-based program.
These programs can be challenging to navigate, especially if you are also facing the challenges of limited income or additional medical care as a result of your condition. As a result, you may want to seek guidance from an experienced attorney during the application process. They can help you understand the differences between the support that SSI and SSDI can offer, determine which programs might support your needs, and assist you in navigating the application process.