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The Differences Between SSI and SSDI

When an individual becomes disabled, whether due to illness or injury, his or her future ability to work and earn a living is dramatically impacted. Fortunately, qualifying individuals can seek financial benefits through a few federal programs.

Two of these programs are Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Both programs can provide financial aid, so long as the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines the disability to be “severe enough to prevent an individual from doing any gainful activity.” In cases where the disabled individual is under the age of 18, his or her disability must be “severe enough to cause marked and severe functional limitations.”

SSI and SSDI differ in important ways, and it is important you make yourself aware of these differences before moving ahead with an application.

SSI and SSDI Have Two Different Financial Requirements

The SSI program was originally established to supplement the financial needs of the blind, elderly and disabled where these individuals have little to no income or resources of their own. Not everyone will qualify for SSI. Individuals seeking SSI benefits will need to pass a “means-test” to verify their eligibility. Once eligibility is confirmed, an individual can apply for cash benefits to help cover the cost of basic food supplies, clothing and shelter. The amount of cash an individual will receive is solely based on his or her financial need, up to the maximum federal benefit rate.

SSDI entitles people to seek financial benefits, as long as they have been contributors to the Social Security system (through paycheck contributions) for at least ten years. Current income and assets have no bearing on eligibility for this particular program. Even individuals with higher income levels can seek SSDI benefits if they become disabled.

Medical Benefits: Medicaid or Medicare?

As soon as an individual is approved for SSI benefits, he or she will also become immediately eligible for Medicaid benefits. Medicaid typically provides comprehensive health care coverage, as it is a program jointly run by state and federal authorities. This makes it very beneficial to those who would otherwise have no access to health benefits.

SSDI beneficiaries can gain access to Medicare benefits two years after their SSDI application has been approved. Medicare is a federally-run program that provides access to routine hospital services and covers a majority of primary medical care costs. Although it is not as inclusive as Medicaid, beneficiaries can purchase insurance to fill in any gaps in coverage.

Not All Applicants Will Receive the Same Financial Benefits

The financial benefits available through SSI are quite different than those available through SSDI. Not all applicants will receive the same financial benefits. During 2015, the standard payment to SSI beneficiaries will be approximately $733 per month. Individual states will often supplement SSI benefits by contributing a small amount. SSI beneficiaries, who receive income from another source, will have their benefits reduced accordingly.

It is expected the average SSDI benefit for 2015 will be approximately $1,165 per month. Beneficiaries may end up receiving more in some cases, as these benefits are based on the individual’s earning records. For SSDI beneficiaries to seek SSI benefits, their SSDI benefit amount must be lower than the maximum-allowed SSI payment. Adults over the age of 18 will be able to seek full SSDI benefits. However, the spouse or child of a disabled individual will only be eligible to receive partial dependent or auxiliary benefits.

Ready to Apply for SSI or SSDI Benefits? We Can Help!

If you or a loved one is interested in applying for either SSI or SSDI benefits, contact SSD Fighters at once. Our attorneys are dedicated to providing legal representation to disabled individuals seeking financial assistance through federally-funded programs. We have more than 46 years of combined experience representing SSD cases like yours. We understand the program requirements, and have the knowledge and skills to help you get real results. Call our Michigan office now to find out how to get started.


Disability.gov: What’s the Difference Between Social Security Disability Insurance & Supplemental Security Income?


J.B. Bieske & Jennifer Alfonsi, Attorneys at Law

19991 Hall Road, Suite 202
Macomb, MI 48044
Phone: 586-977-8100
Fax: 586-977-8444

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