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What Are the Differences Between SSD and SSI?

The Social Security Administration oversees two different benefit programs for which disabled Americans might qualify: Social Security disability insurance and Supplemental Security Income. Here’s how each works:

Social Security disability insurance — As the name implies, SSD (or SSDI) is an insurance policy in the event you become disabled. You pay into the program through your FICA payroll deductions. You are eligible to draw benefits if you become disabled after earning a certain number of work credits. You only have to earn $1,260 to get one work credit, and $5,040 to earn the maximum number of four per year. But you must continue to earn work credits, because the older you get, the more work credits you need to qualify for SSD. For example, a worker who becomes disabled at 31 only needs 20 work credits to qualify, whereas a worker who is 56 years old needs 34.

You must also pass the recent work test. This test is based on age as well. For example, if you are 31 or older, you must have worked at least five of the last 10 years. But if you are 24 to 30 years old, you need only have worked half of the years since turning 21. So, if you are 27, you must have worked at least three years.

Supplemental Security Income — Disabled persons who cannot qualify for SSD have the option of applying for SSI, which is based entirely on financial need. SSI is a monthly benefit paid to citizens and legal residents with limited income who are disabled, blind, or age 65 or older. Blind or disabled children may also receive SSI benefits. Individuals who receive SSI benefits may also be eligible for Medicaid and food assistance.

If you are an adult, both programs require proof of a disability that prevents you from finding and maintaining gainful employment. Establishing that you meet this standard can be tricky, so it’s very common for applicants to be denied the first time they apply. You are permitted to appeal your denial, but we recommend you consult an experienced attorney rather than attempting to represent yourself.

Rudberg Law Offices, LLC represents SSD and SSI applicants in Pittsburgh and throughout western Pennsylvania. If your claim of disability has been denied, schedule a free consultation by calling 412-488-6000 or contacting our Pittsburgh office online.

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