Both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are programs run by the Social Security Administration to provide financial assistance to disabled individuals.

However, the two programs serve two different sets of people and have different benefits and restrictions.

SSDI is available to individuals who have worked and paid Social Security taxes for a qualifying number of years and have become disabled. The amount of the monthly benefit depends on the individual’s earning history. The disabled individual’s spouse and dependent children can also be eligible for SSDI auxiliary benefits. Individuals on SSDI gain eligibility for Medicare after two years. A person’s eligibility for SSDI is not dependent on their financial resources.

SSI is available to disabled individuals who either have never been able to work or have not been able to work long enough to qualify for SSDI. SSI is a means-tested benefit. Individuals must have very limited assets and an extremely limited income to qualify for, and continue to receive, SSI benefits. SSI monthly benefits are generally significantly less than typical SSDI monthly benefits. However, due to the restrictive asset and income limits, individuals receiving SSI also generally qualify for Medicaid in their home state. However, in some states, including Missouri, receiving SSI does not mean automatic Medicaid enrollment.

Despite the restrictive income and asset limits, there are legal means for disabled individuals on SSI to support themselves, or receive support from relatives, without endangering their eligibility for benefits. Generally, this support comes in the form of creating a special needs trust or ABLE account.

More information on these options can be found in the following blog posts:
Types of Special Needs Trusts
ABLE Accounts: A New Resource for Disabled Individuals

The process of applying for either SSDI or SSI involves lengthy legal proceedings, requires extensive documentation, and should only be done with the assistance of a qualified attorney.

Additionally, individuals on SSI, or individuals who wish to support a relative on SSI, should meet with an experienced, special needs attorney to determine the best means of support that do not endanger a person’s eligibility for government benefits.

To discuss either your situation and SSDI or SSI, or how you can help support a disabled relative, please call Martha C. Brown & Associates at (314) 962-0186.