Understanding the Differences between SSDI and SSI

I. Social Security Benefits and Children with DisabilitiesI. Social Security Benefits and Children with Disabilities

Many children and youth with disabilities are eligible to receive some form of Social Security, either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI eligibility is determined based on a parent’s past work history, while SSI eligibility is based on a family’s income. Unfortunately these programs can be confusing and difficult to navigate, which often results in families not realizing all of the entitlements to which they and their children are eligible. Below we’ve outlined some fundamental differences between SSDI and SSI, and outlined steps to take to apply.

II. Social Security Disability Insurance

Social Security Disability Insurance is a federal insurance program that protects workers who become totally disabled and cannot work for a year or more. The program is administered by the Social Security Administration. SSDI cash benefits are paid to disabled workers who earned enough work credits and worked recently enough to qualify. SSDI also provides cash benefits for eligible family members. Social Security Disability Insurance is not a need-based program. Benefits are based on how long you have worked, and how much you have earned in Social Security covered jobs during your working years.

A. SSDI for Eligible Adults 

Who? Adults who worked, paid into Social Security, and will not be able to work for at least a year may be eligible for SSDI benefits.

What? Cash benefits that are based on your work and earnings history. The more you made and paid into Social Security while employed, the higher your benefits will be.

How? To apply for SSDI benefits, call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), visit this website or go to your local Social Security office (click here to locate an office near you).

B. SSDI for Children and Adult Children with Disabilities 

Who? The SSDI program also pays benefits to children whose parents qualify for Social Security disability benefits as explained in part I, above. Children are eligible if they are unmarried and fall into one of the following three categories:

  • Category 1: Under age 18 (if your child is under 18, they may be eligible to receive SSDI payments whether or not they have a disability); or
  • Category 2: 18-19 years old and a full-time student no higher than grade 12 (again, your child’s disability status does not matter if they are 18-19 years old and still in high school); or
  • Category 3: 18 or older and have a disability that started before age 22.

What? This SSDI benefit is called a “child’s” benefit because it is paid on a parent’s Social Security earnings record. For a disabled adult in category 3 to become entitled to this “child” benefit, one of his or her parents must be receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits, or must have died and have worked sufficiently long enough under Social Security to trigger eligibility. Thus, the child or adult child of an eligible Social Security recipient can receive benefits based on their parent’s work history without having any work history of their own. Click here for more information.

How? To apply for SSDI benefits, call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or go to your local Social Security office (click here to locate an office near you).

III. Supplemental Security Income

Social Security Disability Insurance is a federal insurance program that protects workers who become totally disabled and cannot work for a year or more. The program is administered by the Social Security Administration. SSDI cash benefits are paid to disabled workers who earned enough work credits and worked recently enough to qualify. SSDI also provides cash benefits for eligible family members. Social Security Disability Insurance is not a need-based program. Benefits are based on how long you have worked, and how much you have earned in Social Security covered jobs during your working years.

A. SSI for Children

Who? A child under 18 can qualify if he or she meets Social Security’s definition of disability for children, and if his or her family’s income and resources fall within the eligibility limits. Socialsecurity.gov provided the following chart outlining family income guidelines.

SSI ad SSDI Chart

 

What? The amount of the SSI payment is different from one state to another because some states add to the federal SSI payment. Pennsylvania is a state that supplements SSI payments. When evaluating a child’s application for SSI, parents’ income is considered, as well as the resources of others living in the home. All of the following criteria must be met in order for a child to be eligible for SSI payments:

  •  The child must not be working and earning more than $1,090 a month in 2015. Remember, family resources are considered when evaluating eligibility – this is outlined in the chart above.
  • The child must have a physical or mental condition, or a combination of conditions, that results in “marked and severe functional limitations.” This means that the condition(s) must very seriously limit your child’s activities.
  • The child’s condition(s) must have been disabling, or be expected to be disabling, for at least 12 months; or must be expected to result in death.

How? To apply for SSI for your child, you must complete the application for SSI and the Child Disability Report. SSI applications can be done in person or on the phone. For more information on the standard SSI application, call 1-800-772-1213 or click here. The Child Disability Report is only available online. You can access it here.

B. SSI for Adults

Who? Adults who have a disability or are over the age of 65 are eligible for SSI benefits.

What? Cash benefits. Note that the Social Security Administration uses a different definition of “disability” for children and adult applications.

How? To apply, adult applicants can call 1-800-772-1213 or click here.

2017-10-07T23:44:37+00:00