What Are Social Security Benefits?

Millions of people across all age groups live with disabilities. Many of these become suddenly unable to work because of their condition, and this can have devastating effects on these people and their families. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration offers two benefit programs for people with disabilities: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income.

If you’re considering applying for disability benefits, understanding these programs can help you understand what to expect.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

SSDI is a program available to individuals with a qualifying disability who have a strong work history. SSDI is funded by Social Security taxes that a person pays throughout their life, and those who qualify will receive the amount that they’ve earned.

After receiving SSDI for at least two years, a person will become eligible for Medicare.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

SSI is a publicly funded, need-based benefits program. Like SSDI, SSI is for people with permanent disabilities. It doesn’t require as much of a work history, and recipients are often children or younger adults who haven’t had time to work much. To be eligible for SSI, the person must have very little income and fewer than $2000 in cash and other assets.

SSI recipients are automatically eligible for Medicaid.

Comparing the two programs

SSDI and SSI are similar programs, but the differences are important. To receive either benefit, your disability must be permanent (longer than twelve months) or terminal. SSDI payments are generally larger than SSI payments, and it’s easier to stay eligible once you’ve been approved. Both are publicly funded, but SSDI is not need-based.

There’s only one application for Social Security benefits. If your application is approved, you’ll receive whichever benefit you’re eligible for. In some cases, you may receive a small SSDI payment and enough SSI to meet the federal minimum. As of 2019, this minimum is $771 for an individual, and $1157 for an individual and an eligible spouse.

If you’re facing a permanent disability and want to know more about Social Security benefits, contact our office for a free consultation. We can help you navigate the application process, and if your claim is rejected, we can help you appeal. Reach out today!