When it comes to disability assistance, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are two programs Americans can lean on. While both programs offer assistance to disabled individuals, there are some key differences. Below, we’ll explain how each disability program works, eligibility requirements and more.

What Is SSDI?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is available for Americans who have spent their working years paying taxes into the Social Security program. To qualify for this disability program’s monthly benefit payments, you must meet five requirements:

  1. First, you must meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of “disabled,” which an independent doctor that works for the agency usually confirms.
  2. Second, you must be unable to perform your current work duties or find another job that pays similar wages that’s willing to hire you with your current limitations.
  3. Third, a doctor must expect your medical condition to last at least 12 months or result in death.
  4. Fourth, you must be at least 18, but less than 66 years old when you apply for SSDI benefits.
  5. Lastly, you must have worked 5 in the last 10 years full time in a job that withheld FICA taxes from every paycheck. (These are also commonly known as Social Security taxes.)

If you qualify for SSDI, you’ll typically begin receiving monthly disability payments no sooner than six months after your application date. The amount of money you receive each month depends on how much you contributed through Social Security taxes during your working years. To find your payment amount, the SSA averages your highest wages earned over the last 10 years you worked. Then, they make adjustments to account for inflation. Your SSDI payment amount should equal 40% of your typical monthly paycheck while working. Today, the average monthly SSDI payment is $1,258.

What Is SSI?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) was established in order to help children and adults who are disabled, blind, or over 65 years old. SSI benefits cover necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter specifically for households with limited income and resources. Unlike SSDI, SSI benefits come from the general tax revenue and individuals are not required to have contributed income during their working years. The most any individual can receive in SSI benefits is currently $783/month. Eligible couples can receive no more than $1,175 in monthly SSI benefits. Applicants under age 65 must either prove they’re blind or disabled to qualify for SSI. Since the SSA reviews these claims the same way they do applications for SSDI benefits, the medical screenings for both programs are identical.

You May Qualify for Legal Assistance

For Americans considering applying for either of these disability programs, having an experienced disability advocate or attorney on your side is key. Experienced legal assistance can provide the following benefits:

  1. File your claim in a timely manner
  2. Represent you if an appeal is necessary
  3. Doubles your chances of getting approved for disability the first time you apply
  4. If the SSA doesn’t approve your benefits application, you owe $0 in legal fees

Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free disability benefits evaluation online now!

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