1. Are SSDI and SSI Two Different Government Programs?
Yes. Social Security has two different programs that pay people that meet the definition of “disabled” money. One is SSI (Supplemental Security Income); the other is “regular” Social Security, or SSDI. There is a lot of confusion about these two programs in the mind of the public because the program initials sound very similar. It’s easy to confuse the two, but the differences are simple.
2. What is SSDI?
The SSDI or “regular” disability program pays a claimant based on the money paid into Social Security during a lifetime. It is an insurance policy that you, and you alone, paid into while working that is issued by the United States Government. The amount you receive is determined by the amount you paid in, divided by years of life expectancy. Payments may also be sent to a spouse and children. While working, you earn one “work credit” for each quarter of a year that you work. To be eligible for SSDI, you need to have earned 40 credits. Twenty of the work credits must have been earned in the last 10 years before you became disabled. Eligibility includes Medicare two years after entitlement date.
3. What is SSI?
The SSI program is an entitlement, or welfare, program, paid to people who have no work record during the past five years. Workers that did not pay into the system because they were paid cash, or were only sporadically employed over their lifetime, typically qualify for SSI. There is an asset limitation and a household income limitation for eligibility as well. There is immediate state Medicaid coverage with this program.
4. Between SSDI and SSI, Which Is Better?
Between SSDI and SSI, the SSDI program is decidedly a more valuable program for people who have to apply for Social Security Disability. SSDI pays more money to the claimant than SSI. Successful SSDI claimants are eligible for the health care program run by the federal government called Medicare. Successful SSI claimants are only eligible for the health care programs run by the different states called Medicaid. In short, the benefits provided to the claimant by SSDI are greater than the benefits under SSI.
5. Is There a Different Application Process?
The application process for the two programs is very similar. To apply for both, SSDI and SSI, you must complete the same online application on the website of the United States Social Security Administration. To apply for SSI, there is an additional form that must be completed called a FORM SSA-8001.
6. Between SSDI and SSI, Which Is Faster?
For most people, the application process for the two programs takes about the same amount of time before receiving benefits. However, for some severely disabling conditions like blindness or amputation of the leg at the hip, you can quickly qualify for expedited SSI payments. Eligibility for SSDI will not start until a claimant has been disabled for at least five months.
7. Are there Different Success Rates on SSDI and SSI Claims?
Many claimants are denied SSI for technical reasons alone, like household financial resources. As a result, SSDI applications have a higher success rate than SSI applications. But, the definition of disability, and what you are required to prove, are the same under both programs.
8. Can I Get SSDI and SSI at the Same Time?
Yes. You can get SSDI and SSI at the same time. This can occur when a claimant has earned very low wages, or has not been employed, for several years just before filing a claim for disability. Because of low wages, or no recent wages, the claimant’s monthly SSDI benefit will be very low. They might also be eligible for a payment under SSI. When a person receives both an SSDI and an SSI payment each month, it is called a “concurrent benefit.”
9. How Much More Money Does SSDI Pay than SSI?
Typically, SSDI pays much more per month than does SSI. For the year 2020, the average monthly benefit under the SSDI program is $1,250. Monthly benefits commonly range between $800 and $1,800 per month. For higher income individuals, the monthly payment will be greater. SDI benefit amounts are based on the earnings average over the lifetime of the worker. Household income does not matter. The severity of an individual’s disability does not matter. Under the SSI program, the average monthly payment is about $538.00.
10. What About Medicare and Medicaid?
Like SSDI and SSI, Medicare and Medicaid, sound alike. They are actually two different programs. Both pay for healthcare and medical expenses.
If you are awarded disability benefits under SSDI, you are eligible for Medicare. It is a federal health insurance program for people over the age of 65 and younger individuals who are found to be disabled If you are awarded disability benefits under SSI, you will be eligible for Medicaid. Medicaid is a public assistance healthcare program for low-income Americans regardless of their age. They both pay for medical expenses and healthcare.
Medicare covers most services deemed “medically necessary.” However, it doesn’t cover everything. Typically, it doesn’t cover routine vision, hearing and dental care; nursing home care; or medical services outside the United States except in limited circumstances.
Medcaid varies by State. As a general rule, all states are required to cover the following: transport to a medical facility, laboratory and x-ray diagnostic services, inpatient and outpatient hospital services, nursing home and home health care and tobacco-cessation counseling for pregnant women. Many states also provide benefits like prescriptions drugs, physical and occupational therapy, optometry, dental care and chiropractic services.
If you have questions about the differences between SSDI and SSI, please give SocialSecurityCase.com a call at 855-GO-DISABILITY (855-463-4722). We can help.