What is the Difference Between Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Signed into law on August 14, 1935 by President Roosevelt, the Social Security Act was designed to create a program to provide a continuous source of income and safety net for American workers after they retire.

In addition to retirees, Social Security supports people who are disabled, and provides survivor benefits when a spouse or parent has died. Monthly benefits began being paid in January 1940.

Social Security added survivor benefits in 1939 and in 1956, benefits for disabled workers were added. Social Security is funded by all American workers who file income taxes. That includes members of Congress, judges, political appointees, and even the President and Vice President.

A nine-digit Social Security number was issued to you as a child and is your connection to Social Security throughout your life.   

The retirement income you can receive from Social Security depends on how many years you worked and how much money you put into the system. Social Security income was never designed to be the only source of income after you retire, but to supplement your retirement savings. 

Contact www.ssaa.gov/benefits/retirement.com  to calculate your benefits.

What is Social Security Disability Income (SSDI)?

The government estimates that a 20-year-old worker has a 1-in-4 chance of becoming disabled before reaching full retirement age, so disability is more common than you may think.

Unlike Social Security retirement benefits, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides a source of income to those who are facing health challenges that result in a disability. Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) is administered and funded by the Social Security Administration.

Social Security defines disability as an inability to work for a year or more due to a physical or mental condition. You must not be able to do the work you did before you were injured, and cannot do similar work due to the disability.  

To be considered disabled, the condition must last for at least a year or may be expected to result in your death. A short-term disability will not qualify you for disability benefits.

Just having a note from your doctor may not qualify you for disability benefits either. In fact, a large percentage of Social Security Disability claimants are denied benefits after filing their initial application.

More often than not, you will need to seek the assistance of an experienced Social Security Disability law firm to go before a judge to explain, based on detailed information about your medical condition, the reasons you should quality for disability benefits.

This is unfortunate, because you may feel you deserve to access what you paid into the system in your time of need, but the system is set up to challenge those who claim they are disabled, so you must be persistent to receive benefits in a timely manner.

Just how much you can claim depends on the years you worked and put into the system. Check SSDI charts to see how much you may qualify for.

What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Disability benefits are paid through SSDI and also SSI or Supplemental Security Income.

Unlike SSDI, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is not funded by Social Security taxes but by general tax revenues. It provides a safety net to people who are disabled, blind, and elderly with little to no income. Disability benefits provide for basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter.

Some states supplement the SSI program with additional payments and generally the benefit amount will vary, depending on your income and living arrangements.

Disability and Children

Anyone under the age of 18 who is defined as disabled may be eligible for SSI disability benefits.

“Disability” is defined by the government as a child who is physically or mentally impaired with severe functional limitations. Those limitations are expected to last at least one year or may be expected to result in death.

For example, even blindness may quality as disability for either an adult or a child. If the child lives at home, a portion of their parent’s income may be considered a resource that offsets what the child can receive.

Navigating your disability benefits may require the skilled guidance of a law firm that understands the system. At the Law offices of Haygood Cleveland, we are here to help. Please contact us today at 334-731-7693 for a complimentary consultation.


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