The social security office processes countless filings for social security disability insurance (SSDI) and supplemental security income (SSI). Before you apply for social security benefits, first consult with a professional. Your social security attorney can explain who qualifies (based on the set disability criteria), the actual application process for each, and the difference between the two.

The process of qualifying and applying for benefits vary since SSDI and SSI differ in the following ways:

SSDI and SSI Both SSDI and SSI benefits are under the Social Security Administration (SSA). In both cases, a claimant may receive certain benefits only if they can prove that they are disabled. However, there are differences in the benefits that an individual is entitled to receive and the requirements for eligibility.

SSDI refers to work-based entitlement. An individual filing for disability claims who paid into the Social Security system for at least ten years may be eligible for SSDI benefits. That is, as so long as the case falls within the SSDI disability criteria. A person who is disabled but does not meet the work history criteria will not be entitled to any disability payment under SSDI.

In contrast, filing for disability claims under the SSI program is based on financial need. It is not necessary for a financially needy and disabled person to have made payments into the Social Security system or have a certain work record.

Disability payments are given based on 1) proven disability, and 2) SSI financial need requirements. The need-based income criteria, however, can be quite stringent. There is a cap for the total amount an individual or a married couple can have (in cash or a bank account) before they are eligible for SSI payments.

  • Benefits under the SSDI disability program are proportional to one’s income

SSDI benefits are usually more significant when compared to SSI benefits since they are partly based on payments made into the Social Security system. An SSI disability benefit is comparable to a fixed monthly income. SSDI benefits, on the other hand, vary as they are based on one’s earnings record.

A high-income earner, for example, who has become disabled because of an accident will likely qualify for more significant SSDI benefits (especially when compared to a low-income individual).

  • Recipients of SSI disability benefits may need to reorganize assets

SSI disability benefits are need-based. Financial need is necessary when claiming disability payments. An individual, therefore, who gains substantial assets may not anymore qualify for social security benefits.

Given the risk of denial or disqualification, some disabled people are then forced to reorganize their assets so they may qualify (or continue to qualify) under the SSI disability requirements.

  • SSDI beneficiaries are automatically eligible for Medicare

This is automatic for people with disabilities who qualify for SSDI. Such Medicare coverage, however, is applicable two years after you start receiving benefits.

Medicare coverage is generally less comprehensive when compared to Medicaid. This is why some low-income disabled workers prefer a social security claim under SSI over one under SSDI. More than the benefit amount, they look into the more comprehensive healthcare coverage.

Disability lawyers can help you with your application for social security benefits. If you (or any of your family members) have a disability or recently became disabled, contact us at E Orum Young. Our law firm specializes in social security disability insurance (SSDI) and supplemental security income (SSI) cases. For questions on social security law or if you are filing for social security disability benefits, give us a call right now.