Do You Qualify For SSDI, SSI, Or Both?

What is the difference between SSDI and SSI? We have all heard both of these terms, and at times have likely used them thinking that they both generically apply to disability benefits. SSDI stands for Social Security Disability Insurance, and is often referred to as Title 2 disability. It is called this because its enacting legislation is found in Title 2 of the Social Security Act.

SSI, on the other hand, stands for Supplemental Security Income, and is often referred to as Title 16 disability. It is called this because its enacting legislation is found in Title 16 of the Social Security Act. With that being said, what are the differences between SSDI and SSI?

Social Security Disability InsuranceSupplemental Security Income
EligibilityA disabled or blind individual must have paid Social Security taxes to become
insured for benefits.

A disabled or blind adult or child must meet all of the following categories:

  • Have limited income
  • Have limited resources
  • Be a U.S. citizen or national, or in one of the certain categories of aliens
  • Live in the United States or Northern Mariana Islands
PaymentThe monthly disability benefit amount is based on the Social Security earnings
record of the insured worker.
The monthly payment is based on need and varies up to the maximum federal benefit rate. Some states add
money to federal SSl payments.
Medical CoverageThe worker will get Medicare coverage automatically after receiving disability
benefits for two years.
In most states, beneficiaries are automatically eligible for Medicaid.

In addition to meeting the medical and vocational eligibility requirements for Social Security Disability Insurance, you must also have enough "quarters of coverage" of work history within the past 10 years to be insured. The amount that you are required to have earned during the course of those years in order to be credited with a quarter of coverage changes periodically. Basically, you need one-quarter of coverage per year since you turned 21 years of age, and a total of 20 quarters of coverage in the past 10 years. The amount of disability payments that you can expect to receive is further determined based on the amounts that you paid in, and the total number of quarters in addition to the bare minimum required. For further information, you should contact The Law Offices of Daniel L. Crandall & Associates, Southwest and Central Virginia's disability insurance law firm.

Sometimes, a claimant may not have a work history, or enough of a work history to reach the federal benefit rate. When this happens, that claimant may be entitled to Supplemental Security Income. This type of benefit can be received separately from or in addition to, disability payments. This benefit is payable, after meeting the same medical and vocational standards required for disability insurance, based solely on the claimant's income and property. Thus, if your disability insurance payment is below the benefit rate, Supplemental Security Income would make up the difference to the federal benefit rate. If you were not entitled to disability insurance payments due to your work history, you could also receive Supplemental Security Income. As of the writing of this article, the federal benefit rate is "$710 for an individual and $1,066 for a couple." However, this rate is subject to change at any time, and you should check the Social Security Administration website to ensure that you have up-to-date information.

If you begin receiving disability benefits, it is important to remember that your continued qualification to those benefits is contingent upon the existence of a continuing disability. If, at some point in the future, after receiving benefits, you find that you are able to work at a substantial and gainful level, you could lose your entitlement to disability benefits. To deal with this problem, the Social Security Administration has the Ticket to Work Program.

This program provides vocational training, job placement and other employment support services, free of charge, to enable those who are on disability, and are able, to attempt to re-enter the workforce. This program is optional to anyone who receives benefits. A claimant has to be careful though, because when their work reaches a certain level, their benefits and any associated health insurance could be terminated. It is important to know the specifics of your situation before you attempt to re-enter the workforce.

Another way one can lose his or her SSI benefits is if his or her resources exceed the limits set by the Social Security Administration, after he or she has otherwise qualified. The classic example of this is when someone inherits money or wins a monetary prize while on Supplemental Security Income. When this happens, the recipient is required to report this information to Social Security. Depending on the amount received, and the benefit being paid, Supplemental Security Income payments could be reduced or discontinued. There is no effect on benefit payments under the disability insurance program.

If you or someone you know needs effective representation concerning qualifying for disability, you should contact Central and Southwest Virginia's disability attorneys at The Law Offices of Daniel L. Crandall & Associates.