The Social Security Disability (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are two large programs of the U.S. Federal government that are aimed at providing financial assistance to people with disabilities. SSDI was created by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in 1956, while SSI was created in 1974.

The SSDI pays disability benefits to qualified SS insured members who are below the age of 65 and who are also totally disabled. To qualify for payment, a member must meet the following requirements:

  • Had worked long enough (or recently enough) and have paid Social Security taxes or Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes while employed (these taxes are automatically deducted from employees’ monthly take home pay on a monthly basis);
  • Has earned the number of credits required by the SSA (employees earn four credits annually); and,
  • Is suffering from total disability

Total disability or disability, as defined by the SSA, means:

  • Inability to perform previous work, as well as any other work, due to the medical condition;
  • The disability has either lasted for a year or is likely to last for a year or more; and,
  • The disability can result in death.

A list medical conditions that are severe enough has been drawn up by the SSA; finding one’s health problem in this list would automatically include him/her in the roster of disabled insured SS members. Not finding one’s health condition in the list, however, will require an evaluation by Social Security in order to determine if the health condition is serious enough to be considered a form of total disability.

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability program, on the other hand, provides non-taxable financial assistance to Americans, who are, at least, 65 years old, blind, or disabled (the meaning assigned to “disability” is the same with SSDI), and whose income or resources fall within the federal benefit rate (FBR) determined by the government.

Since SSI funding comes from the U.S. Treasury general funds (rather than the SS taxes paid monthly by insured SS members), neither SS credits nor previous employment is, therefore, required to qualify into the program.

The SSI program aims to help provide for the basic needs of its beneficiaries. These basic needs include food, shelter and clothing. In a number of states, SSI benefits application is also considered as application for food stamps, while other states allow the benefits to be supplemented by Medicaid to cover prescriptions, doctor’s fee and other medical care costs.

For millions of Americans who live with a disabling physical or mental condition, it can be extraordinarily difficult to support themselves on their own. This is particularly true when their disability makes them unable to work. Fortunately, the Social Security disability program provides benefits to those who suffer from disabilities, helping disabled individuals to get the support they need to live their lives on their own.

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program provides financial support to those have become disabled by an injury or illness, and have met the required work credits. Additionally, children and spouses of deceased workers are often able to get disability benefits through this program.

SSI benefits, on the other hand, are available to those living on low incomes who are aged, blind, or suffer from a disability, with sometimes increased benefits for families to help provide a level of support that more accurately matches their needs.


Basic Concerns about the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Social Security members, who sustain permanent disabilities, whether this injury is work-related, may be entitled to receive cash benefits from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

Social Security members refer to anyone 65 years old or below, who has:

Worked long enough or recently enough in a job covered by Social Security or who is self-employed; and,
Earned the required number of credits required by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Employees earn four credits in a year. These credits can be earned through monthly payment of Social Security taxes (identified as “FICA” Federal Insurance Contributions Act in employees’ pay slips).

Permanent disability, on the other hand, refers to any condition:

  • That renders a person unable to perform the work that he/she did before being disabled and which renders him/her incapable of performing any other type of work; and,
  • May either last for at least a year or result in death.

The SSA has made a list of disabilities and medical conditions which it considers too severe. If a person’s condition is found in this list and if he/she meets the other criteria listed above, then he/she would most likely qualify as a recipient of SSDI cash benefits.

It will have to be understood by an employee, however, that, despite having been approved to receive the cash benefits or if he/she is already receiving payments, this can stop if:

If the SSA decides that his/her medical condition has improved to a point that he/she can be considered as no longer disabled or he/she works at a level that the SSA considers as “substantial”; or,
If he/she turns 65 – if this is the case, recipient will continue receiving the same amount of payment, only this time, it will no longer be in the form of disability benefit but in the form of pension.

As explained by the Hankey Law Office, however, despite how much those who have developed an unexpected physical or mental disability rely on Social Security Disability benefits, many of them find the application process overly complex; worse, many more are denied in their application on their first attempt.

Whether in preparing all the required documents, in filing their application or in making an appeal, a highly-competent SSDI lawyer may be able to help. It is not enough to be eligible for the benefits; everything will also need to be done correctly – something that can be better accomplished through the assistance of a legal professional.