No one plans on becoming disabled. On the contrary, most people assume they will remain healthy and able to work until they reach the age of retirement or beyond. Unfortunately, an accident of illness could cause you to become disabled at any age. If that happens, how will you cover the costs of medical treatment? How will you cover your daily living expenses? For many disabled individuals either the Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, program, and/or the Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, program offer a solution. Do you qualify for SSI or SSDI?
Both the SSDI and the SSI program are federally funded programs. Although they offer similar benefits, there are significant differences in both the eligibility criteria and the benefits offered by the programs.
Eligibility for the SSDI program depends on your work history. To be approved you must have both a qualifying disability and you must have accrued enough in covered earnings over your lifetime. The amount you need to have accrued in earnings depends on your age at the time you apply. Your disability must be something that prevents you from working for at least one year or that is expected to end in death. The amount you receive in SSDI payments depends on your lifetime earnings. Monthly benefit amounts can vary widely; however, the average monthly benefit amount for 2013 is $1,132. The program is administered through the U.S. Social Security Administration, or SSA. If you want to know how much you have contributed in earnings during your lifetime or want an estimate of what your SSDI benefit would be you can check through the SSA website.
The SSI program is also administered by the SSA and also provides benefits to disabled individuals. Benefits are also available to people who are blind or who are over the age of 65 without a disability. Unlike the SSDI program, you do not need a work history to qualify. Instead, the SSI program targets low income individuals. In fact, eligibility depends on your income and resources falling below the program limits. Those limits are often very low. As of 2013 an individual cannot have over $2,000 in resources and a couple not more than $3,000 to qualify for SSI benefits. For someone who qualifies, the maximum SSI benefit amount paid out by the federal government is $710 for an eligible individual, $1,066 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse, and $356 for an essential person. Some states also add an additional amount on top of what the federal government provides to an SSI recipient.
If you think you may qualify for SSI or SSDI benefits you can apply via telephone, in person, or over the internet. Consult the SSA website for application information.