Did you know that about 61 million adults live with a disability in the US? That’s 26 percent of the adult population or one in four adults.
A substantial part of the population depends on disability benefits. They provide much-needed financial support to persons with disabilities and their families. But applying for disability at the Social Security Administration (SSA) isn’t as straightforward as you might have hoped.
That’s because the SSA offers two benefit programs for disability. One is the Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The other is the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
SSI vs. SSDI, what’s the difference? It’s easy to understand why people may get confused between the two. There are many similarities, but there are significant differences too.
Read on to learn about the difference between SSDI and SSI to determine what’s right for you.
Who Does the SSA Consider for SSI vs. SSDI?
Both benefits programs define disability the same. The SSA deems a person disabled if they can’t work because of a physical or mental impairment that’s expected to result in death or last for at least 12 months.
The primary difference between SSI and SSDI is that the SSA requires a certain amount of work credits for SSDI determination. The SSA uses the age when you develop a disability and the work credits earned before the disability started to calculate SSDI benefits.
On the other hand, SSI isn’t tied to your work history. If you don’t have a work history or enough work credits, you can apply for SSI. But you must have minimal income or no income at all, and your financial assets must not exceed a strict cap.
The cap is $2000 for single people and $3000 for married couples. The SSA exempts your home, one car, household goods, and personal effects from the financial resource limit.
SSI Disability vs. SSDI: Which One Pays Better?
In general, SSDI pays higher than SSI disability. As of January 2022, the average monthly benefit of SSDI is $1223 compared to $624 for SSI.
But besides the monetary benefits, when you compare the two programs, both have some form of advantage over the other.
SSDI applicants need to wait for six months to receive benefits, while SSI applicants only need to wait one month. However, SSDI recipients can get retroactive payments that go back to a year before the date of their application.
SSI recipients automatically qualify for health insurance through Medicaid. But a person with SSDI can only get Medicare after a waiting period of 24 months unless they have ALS (no waiting period).
The approval rate for SSDI is typically higher than for SSI. In most cases, judges assign more credibility to those who have worked before than those who have never worked.
Can You Apply for Both?
Yes! You can apply for SSI if you’re already SSDI-approved, but your SSDI payment is low.
You can collect SSI benefits to supplement your SSDI payment. But you still have to meet SSI requirements.
Getting Legal Assistance
The differences between SSI vs. SSDI can get confusing to a lot of people. It’s one of the reasons why the SSA denies most applications for SSI or SSDI.
Getting legal help at the start of your application can give you a better chance of receiving the benefits you deserve.
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