What are the differences between the SSI and SSDI programs?
Georgia residents who are no longer able to work due to a chronic condition or disabling injury may be eligible for benefits through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or the Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI and SSDI payment amounts are both calculated and granted by the Social Security Administration (SSA) based on individual need and other factors.
If you have questions about either of these 2 disability programs, consult with the experienced Georgia Social Security disability attorneys at WPMH Legal. We’re happy to explain how these programs differ and help you determine what benefits you are entitled to.
SSI vs. SSDI
Firstly, these programs differ in that SSI pays monetary benefits to disabled individuals who are considered low-income, who may not have worked or who worked but did not acquire enough credits to qualify for SSDI.
The benefits awarded to qualifying recipients have nothing to do with the typical Social Security income provided to retirees. The programs receive general funding through taxes paid to the government and both require medical eligibility to receive payments.
What is Supplemental Security Income?
Supplemental Security Income is determined on an individual financial need basis. In order to qualify for SSI, you must demonstrate that you own less than $2,000 in assets as a single person. Couples applying for benefits must not have more than $3,000 in assets. Benefits are also based on current income. Additionally, applicants must be U.S. citizens.
The SSI application process involves presenting medical evidence of the disability. To qualify, the disability must have been ongoing for at least 1 year. Once approved, payments are not generally received for 5 months. SSI recipients must have financial records reviewed annually. The SSA also requires that your physical condition be evaluated every 3 to 7 years to determine ongoing eligibility.
SSI program payments are based on what is known as the “federal benefit rate” (FBR). As of 2021, the FBR stands at monthly payments of $794 for singles and $1,191 for couples. SSI also serves to supplement the income of those receiving SSDI benefits. If a claimant receives less than the FBR in SSDI payments, SSI fills in the gap. SSI payments are typically received during the first week of each month.
Anyone who qualifies for SSI benefits is also eligible to receive Medicaid benefits in Georgia, and typically qualify for food stamps. The amount is determined by location and monthly income. However, if you receive free food or shelter, the SSA subtracts the calculated amount for the support from the monthly SSI payments.
What is Social Security Disability Insurance?
The Social Security Disability Insurance program receives funding through taxes paid by employees. By paying the FICA Social Security tax from each paycheck, workers are automatically insured. In order to qualify for SSDI, applicants typically must be younger than 65 years of age and older than 18. They also must have earned work credit hours, which determines the amount of SSDI benefits received. The SSDI program also enables the dependents of a disabled worker to receive partial or auxiliary benefits.
The work credits used to determine SSDI eligibility depend on the age of the employee when they suffered the disability. For example, a 50-year-old employee who suffers a disabling condition needs 28 work credit hours to qualify for SSDI. Acquiring the credit hours means they worked for a minimum of 7 years. Five of the years must have occurred in the last decade. SSDI benefits are also only available to those who incur chronic, total disability.
Thus, monthly SSDI payments depend on work history. As of 2020, the average monthly benefit was $1,295 for singles. However, the amount may be lower or higher depending on individual circumstances. The approval rate for SSDI benefits is generally higher than the rate for SSI.
SSDI applicants are more likely to have acquired a higher level of income, which equates to a higher level of insurance coverage. The claim examiners and judges who evaluate applications also commonly give preference to those with an extended work history, which SSI applicants don’t have. After receiving SSDI benefits for 2 years, you automatically become eligible for Medicare.
Can I collect SSI and SSDI simultaneously?
It’s possible for someone who is disabled to receive benefits from both SSI and SSDI at the same time. In order to qualify, the employee must be deemed disabled according to the specifications set forth by the SSA. The applicant’s income and resources must also be limited despite receiving SSDI payments.
What if I am rejected?
It’s not unusual for disability applicants to receive an initial application rejection from the Social Security Administration. Statistics indicate that disabled parties are rejected upon their first attempt to acquire benefits up to 70 percent of the time. However, by consulting with an experienced disability attorney, the rate of rejection may be greatly reduced.