Getting It Right: Know The Differences In Social Security Programs

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers two programs to assist those who have an illness that prevents them from working at their jobs. These two programs are frequently confused, but they are very different. Knowing which one works best for your needs is important, especially when you consider how long and complicated the application process is for both programs. Read to learn more about how these two programs are similar, and what makes them so different from each other.

How are these programs similar?

Both of these program fall under the control of the federal government and are run by the same agency: the Social Security Administration. The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and the Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) program both require that your medical condition make it impossible for you to do work to earn income. Each program dispenses monthly benefit payments to those who qualify. Additionally, both of the programs insert a 5-month waiting period for getting benefits. As you can see below, that is where the similarities end; these programs are aimed at very different populations, and there is very little chance that you could qualify for both programs, even if you were allowed to do so.

Social Security Disability Insurance

You may have noticed the Social Security deduction on your pay stubs; you have very likely been paying in to this program throughout your working life. To get SSDI benefits, you must have worked enough time and earned what the SSA calls "work credits". To earn a work credit, you must earn $1,260. Unless you are very young, the SSA requires you to have about 20 credits to qualify for approval, but the exact amount varies somewhat depending on your age. This program is connected to another program run by the SSA, the retirement program that provides those of a certain age benefits in their "golden" years.

Supplemental Security Insurance

If you have not worked enough to qualify for SSDI, you may still be able to get some help from the SSA. This program is aimed at those that have little to no income or assets, and work credits are not considered. If you have work credits, you should apply for SSDI first, since the income and property restrictions for SSI are very stringent. To get SSI benefits, you cannot own more than $2,000 in property. Some of your property and income is not counted toward this amount, such as your family home and some other items. Since this program targets those with few resources, you may expect to also qualify for other low-income programs as well, such as food stamps and housing assistance.

Talk to a Social Security attorney like Cook, Glen for more information.