If you are unable to work at your job, there are two main programs meant to help you offered by the federal government under the umbrella of the Social Security Administration (SSA). Those who are old enough might also benefit from the SSA retirement program. To get some clarity on the differences between the two programs for disabled people under retirement age, read on.
The Two Disability Programs
These two programs sound alike but they are meant for different populations. SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) is aimed at people who have worked for a certain amount of time and have enough work history to qualify. SSI (Supplemental Security Income) is aimed at those unable to work or earn income but who might not have enough work history to qualify. This distinction is based on the FICA deductions from paychecks. Part of the deduction goes toward a worker's eventual retirement account but can be paid out early if the worker becomes disabled. The funds for the SSI program, however, are not based on work history but on other factors.
SSDI: What to Know
Work credits are used to calculate both a claimant's eligibility and how much they will be paid. Once they stop working at their jobs because of a medical or mental disability, they must apply for SSDI and explain why they can no longer work. The work credit calculation can be confusing, but it basically says that applicants should have accumulated at least 40 work credits and 20 of them should be in the most recent 10-year period. You can see whether you qualify and for how much by visiting My Social Security account online and registering for an account. Once you are approved, you may be limited in earned income, but the SSA offers programs that allow you to work again.
SSI: What to Know
While you don't have to show work credits to be paid SSI, claimants are extremely limited in what they own and earn. Some property, such as the primary residence and one vehicle is exempt but savings accounts and more can mean you don't qualify for SSI benefits. Those who are already on some government aid programs like food stamps and housing assistance will also likely qualify for SSI too. The one thing that sets SSI apart the most from SSDI is that children can also qualify for and be paid monthly benefits if they can show that they are disabled.
Speak to a Social Security lawyer if you are not sure which program you should apply for. They can assist you with your application and at your appeal hearing if you are turned down for benefits. Speak to a disability attorney to find out more.