For millions of Americans, there’s nothing more frightening than becoming disabled. They are plagued day and night by questions and worries about how to pay the bills, how to buy groceries, or even how to have a functional life. Needs vary across a wide range of disabilities, injuries, and circumstances.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has created two programs—Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)—to accommodate as many Americans as possible. But with two programs comes different sets of rules, qualifications, timelines, and more. This infographic helps you break down the differences, know what applies best to you, and then gets you on your way to getting the benefits you need when you apply for SSI or SSDI.
How to Apply for SSI and SSDI: What You Need to Know
The SSA supports millions of Americans with disabilities each month through its SSI and SSDI disability assistance programs. Yet not knowing the program differences, how to apply for SSI and SSDI benefits or what options people have after an initial claim’s denial can keep disabled Americans from getting the help they need to make ends meet.
1. The Difference Between the Two Programs
SSI is a disability program that calculates beneficiaries’ payments based on their financial need. SSDI is for those disabled Americans who have worked and paid into Social Security by having taxes withheld from previous paychecks.
2. How to Start Your Claim
Many choose to apply for SSI or SSDI with the help of a Social Security disability advocate or attorney. A legal professional can easily handle your application paperwork and provide additional assistance throughout the entire claims review process. You can also file your disability claim on your own through the phone, in-person at your local Social Security office or online.
3. Supporting Documents to Include With Your Application
Both programs require applicants to provide specific documents regarding their claim. These include the person’s Social Security card, birth record, and pay or tax records. Other information that must be included are bank statements and housing records, such as if the person rents or leases. Perhaps one of the most important documents to SSDI is current medical records, which will help the SSA evaluate the person’s physical impairment or medical condition.
4. Understanding Next Steps After Submitting Your Claim
Applicants don’t just receive benefits as soon as they apply for payments. The SSA must evaluate every individual disability claim, which can take a considerable amount of time. Disability Determination Services (DDS) are state agencies that examine all disability applications, and it’s important that those applying for benefits follow up with either the SSA or the DDS about their current application status.
5. How to Appeal If Your Disability Claim Gets Denied
Every person has the right to appeal if their disability benefits application is denied. Attorneys greatly improve applicants’ chances of winning benefits during the appeals stage. In fact, 80% of successfully appealed claims are represented by a Social Security attorney.
Get Professional Help When You Apply for SSI or SSDI
When filing on your own, the disability benefits application process can be confusing, frustrating and even heartbreaking. That’s why many Americans seek free legal consultations with local attorneys. Experienced disability attorneys and advocates can review an individual’s claim, help submit all required paperwork and even shorten the review and approval time. If you would like to apply for SSI, SSDI or get help appealing an unfavorable decision, get a free disability benefits evaluation and speak with an advocate or attorney in your area.
To see if you may qualify for legal assistance before you apply for SSI or SSDI benefits (or need help appealing an unfavorable determination decision from the SSA), click the button below.