SSD and SSI: Understanding the Differences in Benefits and Eligibility

April 18, 2017

Social Security Disability (SSD)—or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)—and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are both disability programs that offer cash benefits for disabled individuals. Yet, there are numerous differences between the two programs that must be understood before deciding which program is better suited for your situation. Both are designed to help the ill and injured when you are unable to work or financially support your family.

Social Security Disability (SSD) is funded through payroll taxes that are available to workers who have accumulated a substantial amount of work credits for at least five years. Recipients of SSD are deemed as “insured” because of their work history and contribution to the Social Security fund in the form of FICA Social Security taxes. Disabled persons become eligible for Medicaid after receiving SSDI benefits for two years. Spouse and minor dependents are also eligible to receive partial dependent, or auxiliary, benefits under this program. There is a five-month waiting period for benefits, meaning the SSA will not pay benefits for the first five months after you become disabled. After the waiting period, the amount of monthly benefits depends on your record of earnings, similar to Social Security retirement benefits. Candidates must be younger than 65 years of age to be approved.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a “means-tested program,” strictly for individuals in financial need, which is funded by general fund taxes. It is available for individuals with low income who have either never worked or have not earned enough work credits to qualify for SSD benefits. To meet eligibility requirements, you must have less than $2,000 in assets ($3,000 for couples) and a very limited income. Disabled individuals who are eligible also qualify for Medicaid in the state of Pennsylvania and may also qualify for food stamps. Amount received is determined by the state according to the amount of regularly earned income. Unlike SSD, benefits begin on the first of the month after submitting the application. People over the age of 65 may also be eligible even if they are not disabled.

The age restrictions, income limits, living arrangements, family benefits, Medicare eligibility, and benefit amounts can be better understood by speaking with a trusted Philadelphia supplemental security income lawyer. The list of qualifying mental and physical impairments is very similar for both programs, but some exceptions do apply.

A Philadelphia social security disability lawyer can help you understand the distinctions between the two programs and determine which one is better for your interests. Dependent on your circumstances, you may be eligible for SSD benefits or SSI benefits. Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates are experienced in determining eligibility for social security disability or supplemental security income. Contact us at 888.PITT.LAW to discuss your case further and seek the benefits that you qualify for. We serve clients in Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties.