The Differences Between SSI and SSDI

Q: Do you know the difference between Supplemental Security Income “SSI” and Social Security Disability Insurance “DDSI”?

Although both programs are designed to assist disabled individuals, you need to know the differences between the benefits and eligibility requirements for SSI and SSDI, in order to know whether you qualify to receive either. An attorney experienced in Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance law can help you at any phase of the application or appeal process.

Here is a general summary of the two rather complex Social Security Administration programs:

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is available to those who are disabled, blind, or over age 65. Eligibility is based on need and requires applicants to have very limited resources (under $2,000 per individual applicant, exclusive of the value of the home). There are also strict income requirements for those who work, though SSI is also available to those who have not worked or paid into the Social Security system. The need-based benefit is standard (currently $733 for individuals and $1,100 for couples) but may be reduced if the individuals’ need is reduced (such as in cases where there is some income being earned). Many states add a supplemental SSI payment in addition to the standard federal payment. SSI requires a by-phone or in-person application at the local Social Security office.

In contrast, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is available to those with a proven disability, which is essentially defined as a medical condition expected to last more than a year or result in death. In addition to the disability, eligibility is based on the applicant’s work record, not on need, just like Social Security Retirement benefits. So applicants must have a work history and must satisfy minimum work requirements in terms of their age and number of years worked at the time of the disability. Applicants can be subject to close scrutiny of work history, medical records, and their ability to perform any kind of different work. Because benefits are based on the work history, the amount varies greatly case-by-case and is calculated based on a specific weighted formula. There is also an earnings threshold of $1,130/month currently, so if you are still able to work and earn more than that, you’re not considered to be “disabled”. You can apply for SSDI by using an online application.

If you or a loved one are disabled and need help navigating the complex process of SSI or SSDI applications or appeals, the Law Firm of Peña & Bromberg, PLLC can help. We serve clients throughout Central Valley California, including San Francisco Bay, Oakland, Bakersfield, Madera, Stockton, Fresno, Sacramento, and Modesto as well as nationwide. Contact us here or call 559-439-9700 for your free consultation.

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