Many people have misconceptions about federal disability programs, how they work, and who is eligible for them. Our resources aim to clear up any confusion about the assistance you may qualify for, and we want to give you a helping hand on your path to securing a stable life for yourself or for your loved ones with disabilities.
What is SSI – Supplemental Security Income?
While Social Security administers the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, this program is not funded by Social Security taxes. SSI gets its funding through the general treasury, including income taxes, corporate taxes, and other taxes. While you may be entitled to Social Security benefits if you’re eligible for SSI, SSI is a fully separate program. Eligibility for SSI is determined solely by financial need and disability status and does not take your work history into account. Individuals who are 65 or older may also qualify for SSI. What’s more, Medicaid will pay for hospital stays, doctor bills, prescription drugs, and other medical costs for SSI recipients in most states.
Broadly speaking, to qualify for SSI you must have less than $2,000 in assets (and $3,000 for a couple) and have an extremely limited income. But the SSI income requirements have some complicated fine print, which can make determining eligibility a confusing process.
What is SSDI – Social Security Disability Insurance?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is also administered by Social Security, but it is an insurance program that gets funded by a payroll tax. SSDI is sometimes known as “worker’s disability,” and you may be eligible to receive SSDI benefits if you had a strong work history before your disability prevented you from working. This means that you worked at least five out of the last ten years (with some exceptions) while paying Social Security taxes through your paycheck. Individuals who are 65 or older are not eligible for SSDI.
The metric used to determine SSDI eligibility is “work credits” that individuals earn through working. In order to qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have earned the minimum amount of credits and have earned some of those credits in the last five out of ten years. SSDI can also pay additional partial benefits to the spouse and children of dependents, and once SSDI recipients have received benefits for two years, they become eligible for Medicare.
Do I qualify for Social Security programs?
The good news is that the same process determines disability for both SSI and SSDI. To meet the disability requirement for either program, you must have a physical or mental condition that prevents you from working, and this condition must have lasted (or be expected to last) for at least 12 months, or be expected to result in death.
We encourage you not to be intimidated by the bureaucratic steps involved in applying for Social Security programs. Please take advantage of our resources to help you navigate the process of getting the federal assistance you need. Fill out our free Disability Evaluation Form, or contact us to talk to a qualified representative about the specifics of your situation.