Which SSA Program Should You Choose?

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If you need monetary help because you can no longer work at your job or you are disabled, you may be puzzled by the choices. The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides disabled people with benefits from at least two different programs. Find out whether the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income program is right for you.

Your Work History

In a lot of ways, your work history will define which of the two above programs is right for you. SSDI is for workers that have paid into the system by way of paycheck deductions. The SSI program, on the other hand, has no previous work requirements at all. In most cases, benefits from SSDI are a bit higher than those from SSI.

Your Medical or Mental Health Condition

Both SSI and SSDI use the same evaluation methods when dealing with the reason why you cannot work. The SSA uses the bluebook when you apply for either SSI or SSDI. The bluebook lists all the major mental and physical health conditions that are covered. In addition, conditions that are not listed may also be considered if enough medical evidence exists to support the applicant's claims of illness. To be approved for either SSI or SSDI, the applicant must prove that their condition prevents them from working at any available position.

Your Financial Situation

If you could name a major difference between SSI and SSDI, it would probably be connected to financial matters. With SSI, the applicant is very limited in what they can own and still be approved for benefits. Usually, they can own a single primary residence and one vehicle. They are also limited in how much money they have in the bank or in other investments. For SSDI applicants, there are no such limits.

Monthly Income

Those who expect to get either SSI or SSDI payments are also limited in how much income they have coming in each month. The amount allowed is based on the cost of living index and can change each year. Recipients of both programs are asked to report all income each month. If they are earning too much, their benefits could be cut off. Not all forms of income are counted, though.

Covered Populations

SSDI is aimed at former workers age 18 and up. However, SSI can be paid to anyone of any age as long as they demonstrate they have a covered impairment and they qualify financially.

With all of the above restrictions, it's easy to have problems with benefits. If you have lost your SSI or SSDI benefits, speak to a Social Security lawyer and find out how you can get legal help affordably.