Types of Social Security Benefits

The Social Security Administration maintains a number of programs designed to assist the disabled.  Two of the most common programs are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  These two programs serve the disabled and have different requirements, though in certain cases a disabled person may qualify for both programs.  Other notable programs include Disabled Adult Child benefits, Survivors Benefits, and Retirement Benefits.  Workers contribute to Social Security through their payroll taxes or self-employment taxes, and unlike other disability programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs or private corporations, these programs are “all-or-nothing”, meaning that there is no partial disability payable.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

You may often hear this program referred to as DIB, SSD, or just plain disability.  SSDI benefits are paid to those individuals who are no longer able to work as a result of their health problems.  The monthly benefit amount is based on a disabled person’s work history and SSDI does not require means testing.  To claim these benefits, an individual must not be working beyond limited thresholds and must have worked (in most cases) at a job that withheld OASDI and taxes for five out of the ten years prior to becoming too ill to work.  Additionally, a person who wants to claim these benefits must establish that their physical or mental health (or both) prevent them from engaging in work.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

People often confuse Supplemental Security Income for disability.  Both programs require proof of disabling mental or physical health conditions, but SSI does not require that the disabled person have worked.  Instead, SSI benefits are payable to aged, blind, or disabled individuals whose income and resources meet strict limits.  The monthly benefit amount is fixed at levels prescribed by the government yearly, and may be reduced by other income and in-kind support.  To claim these benefits, an individual must prove that their physical or mental health (or both) prevent them from engaging in work, and that both their income and resources (excluding your residence and some limited other exceptions) fall below Social Security’s allowable levels.

Seeking Help with your Case

The application process for Disability and SSI benefits is often lengthy, and especially at the initial application and reconsideration levels, most cases get denied.  Seeking the help of an experienced disability professional is a good idea.  Not only will a professional help properly prepare a case and ensure record completeness, but they only get paid where back benefits are available, and at limits that are strictly established by the Social Security Administration.  Even if you did not start your case with assistance, most professionals are able to step in and offer assistance at any stage.