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Differences Between SSI and Social Security Disability Income

Do you have a disability so severe that it prevents you from working to support yourself?

You may qualify for government benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program or the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. The many differences between these two programs are explained below, including how eligibility is determined and the benefits you receive.

If you want to file a claim for benefits from one of these programs, you should strongly consider working with an experienced Social Security Disability attorney in Harrisburg, PA.

The lawyers at Schmidt Kramer have a detailed understanding of these two programs and their application processes. Schedule a free legal consultation right now to find out how we can help you.

What is Social Security Disability?

SSDI was created to provide benefits to individuals who used to work but can no longer do so because of some type of physical or mental impairment or disability.

SSDI benefits are similar to Social Security Administration (SSA) retirement benefits. In both cases, eligibility for benefits and the amount you receive is determined by the number of work credits you have earned in your lifetime.  

Social Security Disability Eligibility

There are two main eligibility requirements for SSDI:

Your Medical Condition Fits the SSA Definition of a Disability

The SSA definition of a disability has three criteria:

  • You are unable to do the job you used to do – You need to show that your disability interferes with your ability to perform basic work-related activities. The SSA has a list of disabilities that automatically satisfy this requirement. Conditions that are not on the list are evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine if they qualify. In some cases, individuals who are still working qualify for benefits. However, if you have earned an average of more than $1,170 per month in 2017, you will most likely be ineligible for benefits.  
  • You cannot do another type of job – The SSA will evaluate your age, education, past work experience and skills that may be transferable to another profession.
  • Your condition is expected to last for at least one year or result in death – SSDI is reserved for long-term disabilities, as opposed to conditions or injuries that may affect you for just a few months.

You Have Earned the Required Number of Work Credits

In 2017, one Social Security work credit is equal to $1,300 in wages or self-employment income. You can earn up to four work credits in a year.  

The number of credits you need to be eligible for benefits depends on your age. Individuals between 31 years old and 42 years old must have earned at least 20 credits in the last 10 years.

The required number of credits increases to 21 for applicants who are 43 years old, 22 for applicants who are 44 years old and so on. Applicants who are 62 years old or older need 40 credits to be eligible.  

SSDI Benefits

This program pays benefits on a monthly basis, and the amount you receive depends on your lifetime earnings. The higher your career earnings, the more money you will receive.

You can use the SSA’s Online Calculator to estimate the amount of compensation you are likely to receive if your claim is approved.

What is SSI?

This program is meant for low-income individuals with disabilities who have not earned enough work credits to qualify for SSDI.

SSI Eligibility

There are two main criteria for SSI eligibility:

You Have a Disability That Meets the SSA Definition of a Disability

If your medical issue is included in the SSA’s list of disabilities, you automatically satisfy this requirement. If not, the SSA will evaluate your condition to determine if you qualify.  

Your Income and Assets Do Not Exceed Set Limitations

The SSI program has strict income and asset limitations. Individual applicants cannot have more than $2,000 in assets, while couples cannot have more than $3,000 in assets. The SSA counts the following as assets:

  • Real estate
  • Bank accounts
  • Cash
  • Stocks
  • Bonds

However, the SSA does not count the following as assets:

  • The house and land where you live
  • Life insurance policies worth $1,500 or less
  • Your car, in most cases
  • $1,500 in burial funds for you and up to $1,500 in burial funds for your spouse

The SSA has different income limitations for each state. However, the SSA does not count all income toward the limit, including:

  • Your first $20 of monthly income
  • The first $65 per month you earn from working and half of what you earn above $65
  • Food stamps
  • Shelter from private nonprofit organizations
  • Wages you use to pay for medical equipment or other things that help you do your job

SSI Benefits

The amount of money SSI applicants receive is determined by the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR). In 2017, the rate is $735 per month for individuals and $1,103 for couples. These amounts increase when there is a Social Security cost-of-living adjustment.

Contact Our Harrisburg Social Security Disability Lawyers

The SSDI and SSI programs provide compensation that individuals with disabilities need to pay their bills and take care of themselves and their families.

However, many initial applications for benefits from these programs are denied. Every applicant who is denied has the right to appeal, but it is a complex process and it could take a long time.

The attorneys at Schmidt Kramer are prepared to guide you every step of the way, compiling documentation to support your claim and hopefully improve your chances of receiving benefits.

Schedule a free, no obligation legal consultation today with our attorneys to review your legal options.

Fill out a Free Case Evaluation form.