For those just starting off in the process of applying for disability benefit, it can be confusing to determine which benefits you may be able to receive. Confusion often arises between Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). There are several main differences between these two forms of disability benefits, and many that qualify for one will not be entitled to receive the other. Our NYC SSD and SSI attorney discusses the differences between SSD and SSI to help you decide which to seek below.
Part of the confusion concerning SSD and SSI benefits lies in misconception that they are part of the same program. Despite both being managed by the Social Security Administration, SSD and SSI are two distinct government program with quite different standards for receipt of benefits. Though medical eligibility for disability will be determined the same way, therein the similarities between the programs end.
SSI is a need based program that is funded by the general tax fund. To be eligible to receive SSI benefits, you will need to meet the means-test, which looks not to your work history, but rather to your financial need. To qualify, you must first be either legally blind, over the age of 65, or disabled according to the SSA’s definition of such. You must next have less than $2,000 in assets or $3,000 for a couple and a limited income. Your income must be below the poverty limit in your state. Typically, those who qualify for Medicaid and food stamps may also meet the standards for SSI’s income limit.
SSDI is available to individuals who have worked a certain number of years and paid into the Social Security trust fund, which funds the program. To receive SSD benefits, you will need to demonstrate that you have a serious medical condition that has left you disabled, per the SSA’s definition as such. You must be unable to work and under the age of 65. Further, you must have a certain number of work credits, which is generally met by working in a qualifying job for at least five of the ten years preceding your application.
Given the vast differences between the eligibility requirements for SSD and SSI, it is important that you consult with a disability attorney to ensure you are seeking the right program. Your lawyer can help you build a strong application to receive the benefits you need.