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What is the difference between SSI and SSDI?There are two types of disability benefits paid by the Social Security Administration (SSA): Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Both are monthly payments that help disabled people who cannot work. Eligibility for these two programs is very different, though, so it's important to know which to apply for based on your circumstances.

What is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

SSDI is a benefit for people with enough work history credits and who have worked within the past 10 years. It's only for people with a work history because the federal government takes away a certain amount of money from workers’ paychecks to fund Social Security benefits, including the SSDI program. If someone is disabled and meets the work history requirements, they can receive SSDI monthly payments if the SSA agrees their disability makes them unable to work. Reviewing your Social Security statement is the easiest way to see if you are eligible. You can get a copy online through ssa.gov or by calling your local Social Security office and requesting a copy.

What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

If you do not have enough work history credits to be eligible for SSDI, you may still be eligible for SSI. This program is for people with limited income and financial resources, and help is based on need rather than work history. People are eligible if they are disabled, have assets below $2000 if single, $3000 if married, and have a low or no income. Contact a Social Security lawyer for help in knowing whether you are eligible.

How Much Should You Expect from Disability Benefits?

The amount of money you'll receive depends on whether you are approved for SSI or SSDI. SSDI benefits are based on your earnings history from all your previous jobs. The more you earned, the more you contributed (usually through payroll taxes) to Social Security, and the larger your monthly SSDI check will be. You can estimate your SSDI benefit amount at ssa.gov, by calling your local SSA office, or by talking with an experienced Virginia Disability lawyer.

SSI benefits do not depend on work history. The maximum amount any eligible individual could receive each month was $783 in 2020 (with a higher benefit possible for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse), but the total amount could be lowered if you are receiving other income or benefits.

Applying for the first time is usually something you can do on your own. Please call BenGlassLaw at (703) 584-7277 if your initial application for SSDI benefits was denied, and we will evaluate your denial letter at no charge.

Ben Glass
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Ben Glass is a nationally recognized car accident and ERISA disability attorney in Fairfax, VA.