Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) VS Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

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Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal insurance program of the United States Government to provide income supplements to people whose employment is affected by mental or physical disability of both temporary and permanent nature. The program is managed by Social Security Administration.   .

People get the benefits of SSDI if they suffer from a physical or mental condition that makes them incapable of engaging in any gainful activity for a period of at least 12 months or more. The beneficiaries should also be under 65 years of age and they must have accumulated 20 social security credits prior to the beginning of the disability period.

Application for SSDI benefits must be submitted along with medical evidence of the severity of impairment that prevents the applicants from performing any work to make a living.

Applicants may hire a lawyer or a law firm specialized in handling SSDI matters. About 90 percent applicants hire a disability representative and most of them benefit from hiring. The usual rate charged by a representative is 25% of the awarded amount, subject to the maximum of $6000.

It takes 90 days to 120 days for an application to be approved or denied, depending on the caseloads at the time and the amount time taken to get sufficient medical evidence from the treating doctor or institution. The process goes through the stages of initial determination, reconsideration determination and hearing. Applicants dissatisfied with the decision of the Social Security Administration may move the U.S. District Court for redress.

Benefits are disbursed directly to the applicants if they are in a position to manage their own finances. However, if applicants are diagnosed to have mental impairment that makes them incapable of looking after their finances, they are required to appoint representative payees to receive benefits on their behalf.


Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a beneficial program run by United States Government to help low-income people with stipends. The program is managed by Social Security Administration and funded from the U.S. Treasury general funds.

Persons deemed eligible for the benefit must attain the age of 65 or more. They must be suffering from a disability caused by medically determinable impairment- both physical and mental- that prevents them from engaging in any gainful activity. The period of disability must not be less than 12 months. The gainful activity includes both the type of work that they used to do previously or any other work that they are capable of doing with their education and experience.

History of Social Security

Blind people are also eligible for the benefits of SSI. For the purpose of SSI, blindness is defined as central visual acuity of 20/200 or less with the use of a correcting lens. The period of blindness and ability to engage in substantial gainful activity are not taken into consideration.

Apart from the above, children of military parents permanently posted outside of the United States and students living temporarily abroad are also eligible for the benefits of SSI.

Persons eligible to receive SSI benefits must have income below certain limits, which are determined by factors such as their place of living, arrangement of living and number of members in the family. Their resources must also be below $2000 for a single individual, $3000 for an individual and his or her spouse, $4000 for a child with one parent living in the household and $5000 for a child applicant living with two parents living in the household.

Lastly, SSI benefits are primarily provided to the US citizens. However, foreigners legally residing in the United States also enjoy the benefits, subject to meeting a series of conditions.

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