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Understanding SSDI and SSI eligibility

| Jun 24, 2021 | Firm News

Indiana residents who are suffering from the effects of a long-term or chronic illness, injury or accident that has left them disabled or unable to work may not be aware of the benefits they are eligible to receive through federal and state government sources. The injury does not have to be work-related in order for them to qualify for government assistance, unlike worker’s compensation insurance.

There are two programs run by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that provide benefits for those who are blind or disabled, and each is funded differently and targets groups with different needs.

Comparing SSDI and SSI benefits and eligibility

The Social Disability Insurance Program (SSDI) provides benefits to workers based on their contributions to the Social Security trust fund. FICA requires that a percentage of employee’s earnings be withheld and placed in this fund, which then may be used for SSDI payments to disabled workers or their dependents based on their earnings record.

The Supplemental Security Income Program (SSI) gives cash assistance payments to those who are disabled, elderly or blind, including children, who have limited income or financial resources. Applicants need not have a work history to qualify, but must show that their disability prevents them from working fulltime in any occupation. The federal maximum benefit in 2020 was $783 per month for an individual and $1,175 for an eligible couple. Some states, including Indiana, provide an optional state benefit to persons residing in licensed residential or Medicaid facilities.

Eligibility requirements

Although eligibility requirements differ for each program, it is possible for individuals to receive benefits from both, or to apply for one if they are ineligible for the other. Eligibility for either program requires that applicants demonstrate that they have a disability that prevents them from engaging in any substantial gainful activity that has either lasted at least 12 months or is expected to result in death.

SSDI is available only to those who have made enough contributions to the Social Security system to qualify. Generally, the older the applicant, the more work credits that are required in order for them to qualify for benefits. Applicants who do not have enough work credits to apply for this program may qualify for the SSI program.

SSI qualifications require that the applicant pass a means test that assesses theirs or their family’s income and assets. Assets not including the family home or car must not exceed $2,000 for individuals, or $3,000 for married couples.

For Indiana residents needing financial assistance due to disability, it is important to have the assistance of a skilled attorney who will guide you through the Social Security claims process and advocate for your needs.