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Distinguishing between SSI and SSDI

by Joe Whitcomb / May 30, 2017

The Social Security Administration offers several types of benefits to disabled individuals including Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is funded by general fund taxes, and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which is funded by payroll taxes. Both of these programs are similar in that they provide benefits to individuals with disabilities and are managed by the Social Security Administration, but there are some distinct differences between the two programs. An individual who is considering filing for SSI or SSDI should consider retaining the assistance of a skilled attorney.

The Difference between SSI & SSDI

Some of the most noticeable differences between SSI and SSDI include the following:

  • Eligibility. SSDI is a disability insurance program based on an insured person’s status that has been earned through work activity. The earnings that a person reports to the IRS each year determines how many quarters of coverage a person can earn. Currently, disability insured status also requires an applicant to have worked at least twenty of the forty possible work quarters prior to the month they became disabled. There are, however, special rules in place for individuals who are younger than 31. SSI is a disability program that is designed to help individuals who are not insured for SSDI. Individuals who have not worked or who have not worked enough to qualify for SSDI are sometimes able to obtain SSI. SSI requires individuals to meet income and resource limits at the time of their disability application, at the time that the disability claim is approved by the government, and as long as the individual is entitled to disability benefits. In short, SSDI is earned through work and SSI depends on a person’s economic resources.

  • Waiting Period. SSI has no required waiting period and individuals are potentially eligible to claim disability benefits the month that they file for disability. SSDI, however, requires a five-month waiting period beginning with the first full month after the date that the individual became disabled or unable to perform a substantial work activity.

  • Beneficiaries. SSDI allows no possibility of benefits for dependents of a disabled person. Instead, SSDI benefits are only directly payable to the disabled individual. SSI benefits, however, can sometimes pay a disabled worker’s dependents based on the disabled person’s work record. SSI, however, does have a family maximum payable on a disabled worker’s record.

  • Types of Benefits. A person who receives SSDI is eligible to receive Medicare two years after they are deemed eligible for SSDI benefits. Medicare is a federal health insurance program that pays for most but not all medical care. A person who receives SSI, however, automatically qualifies for Medicaid. Medicaid is more comprehensive than Medicare.

How a Skilled Disability Attorney Can Help You    

If you are debating claiming SSDI or SSI, the assistance of a knowledgeable lawyer can prove to be particularly beneficial.  At Whitcomb, Selinsky, PC and its disability arm, Rocky Mountain Disability Law Group, our legal counsel has helped many individuals who have been in similar situations. Located in downtown Denver, our office can be reached at (303) 534-1958 or by filling out a convenient online form.

Tags: Supplemental Security Income Social Security Disability Law

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Joe Whitcomb

Joe Whitcomb

Joe Whitcomb is the founder and president of Whitcomb, Selinsky, PC (WSM). In addition, he manages the firm and heads up the Government Procurement and International Business Transactions Law sections. As a result of his military service as a U.S. Army Ranger and as a non-commissioned officer in the Air Force, he learned mission accomplishment. While serving in the Air Force, he earned his Bachelor’s in Social Sciences and a Master’s in International Relations. His Master’s emphasis was on National Security and International Political Economics. After his military career, Joe attended law school at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

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