What is the Difference Between SSI and SSDI?

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Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is funded through payroll taxes. SSDI recipients are considered “insured” for SSDI benefits, as they have worked for a certain number of years and have made contributions to the Social Security trust fund in the form of FICA Social Security taxes. SSDI candidates must be younger than 65 and have earned a certain number of “work credits. SSDI recipients are eligible for Medicare after receiving SSDI for two years.

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Under SSDI, a disabled person’s spouse and children dependents are eligible to receive partial dependent benefits, called auxiliary benefits.

There is a five-month waiting period for benefits. This means that SSA won’t pay you benefits for the first five months after you become disabled. The amount of the monthly benefit after the waiting period is over depends on your earnings record, much like the Social Security retirement benefit.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a strictly need-based program, according to income and assets, and is funded by general fund taxes. SSI is called a “means-tested program,” meaning it has nothing to do with work history, but strictly with financial need. To meet the SSI income requirements, you must have less than $2,000 in assets (or $3,000 for a couple) and a very limited income.

The monthly payment is based strictly on financial need and varies up to the maximum federal benefit rate. Some states, such as New York, add money to federal SSI payments.

Disabled people who are eligible for SSI under the income requirements for SSI are also able to receive Medicaid in the state they reside in. SSI benefits will begin on the first of the month when you first submit your application. There are no dependent benefits under SSI.

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