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SSI Vs. SSDI: What Are The Differences?


If you have become disabled and unable to work, you may have come across benefits with acronyms such as SSI and SSDI. You may qualify for one but not the other. What do these acronyms mean and what are the main differences?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is similar to Social Security retirement benefits because both are based on your employment record. In order to qualify, you must have worked for a certain amount of time before the disability prevented you from working. The length of time you have worked and the amount of income you made can make your monthly benefit amounts higher or lower.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI), on the other hand, is based on need. You qualify only if your income and assets are below a certain amount. You can qualify for SSI even if you have never worked a day in your life. However, if you earn too much money or have assets of a high value, then you will not be able to receive SSI benefits.

How to Qualify for SSI

 SSI is available only to those who are blind, disabled or over the age of 65. You must also have few resources, excluding your home. This amount is typically capped at $2,000 per person or $3,000 per couple.

When it comes to income, the eligibility rules are very strict. The first $65 you earn each month is excluded from your income. After that, every $2 you earn reduces your benefit amount by $1.

How to Qualify for SSDI

SSDI works a little different. It is not based on need, but rather your work history combined with a verifiable disability. A disability is defined as a medical condition that will last at least one year or result in death.

The amount of work history you will need depends on your age at the time of disability. For example, if you are age 24 or younger, you will need to have worked 1.5 years of the past three years. If you are between 24 and 30 years old, you will need to have worked at least half of the time between age 21 and your age of disability. For example, if you became disabled at 27, will need to have worked for three years between 21 and 27. If you are age 31 or older, you will need to have worked five of the last 10 years before your disability.

If you are continuing to work, you will have to take an earnings test. If you are making beyond a certain amount of money each month—$1,820 for those who blind and $1,130 for others—you are not considered disabled and will be disqualified.

Learn More About Social Security Disability Benefits

The laws surrounding Social Security are highly complex. The acronyms can be confusing, so it’s important to understand what type of benefits you are receiving and how it affects your ability to go back to work.

Do you think you qualify for either of these programs but cannot get the benefits you so desperately need? The Law Office of Michael Lawrence Varon can help. He has more than two decades of experience handling Social Security Disability claims and has helped many clients obtain the benefits they need. Call his office at 914-294-2145 to schedule a free initial consultation.

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