Both SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) are programs that provide cash benefits for disabled individuals. However, the eligibility requirements for each program are quite different. The main difference is that SSDI is available to workers who have earned enough work credits with Social Security, while SSI disability benefits are available to low-income individuals who either have not earned enough work credits, or have not worked at all. While both programs are overseen and managed by the Social Security Administration (SSA), the programs are very distinct.
SSDI and SSI in Fayetteville, Arkansas
Social Security Disability Insurance
SSDI is funded through payroll taxes. Therefore, to be eligible for SSDI benefits you must have built up sufficient “work credits,” which depends on your age and the year you became disabled. The program also requires that you worked some part of five of the last ten years before you became disabled. To be eligible for SSDI benefits, you must also be younger than 65 but older than 18.
There is a five-month waiting period for SSDI benefits, meaning that the SSA will not pay benefits for the first five months you are disabled. The amount of the monthly benefit at the end of the waiting period depends on your record of earnings, much like the Social Security retirement benefit. Under SSDI, a disabled person’s spouse and dependent children are eligible to receive auxiliary benefits, or partial benefits.
If your application is approved, your Social Security disability benefits will include cash payments in an amount determined by your personal earnings record. Average payments range from $700 to $1,400 a month. After collecting disability benefits for 24 months, you are automatically eligible for Medicare, regardless of your age.
Supplemental Security Income
SSI is a strictly need-based program and has nothing to do with your work history. To meet the SSI income requirements, you must have less than $2,000 in assets (or $3,000 for a couple) and a very limited income. The Social Security Administration considers many things in determining income. For example, income includes the first $20 of most income received in a month; the first $65 of earnings and one–half of earnings over $65 received in a month; the value of food stamps received; grants, scholarships, etc. used for tuition and educational expenses; and income tax refunds. A more comprehensive list can be found on the SSA’s website.
Eligibility for SSI, as well as the amount of benefits you may receive, depends on where you live. For federal SSA purposes, however, you must meet all of the following four criteria:
- You must be blind, disabled, or age 65 or over.
- You must be either a citizen of the United States, or meet other very narrow requirements.
- Your monthly income must be low.
- The property you own must be worth less than $2,000, or $3,000 for a couple.
If your application is approved, your SSI benefits will include cash payments at a minimum of $710 per month for an individual or $1,066 per month for a couple as of 2013. Most states add a state supplement to the federal SSI payment. However, Arkansas does not.