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The Social Security Administration offers two programs that provide financial benefits to disabled Americans: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

However, these services often generate some confusion among disabled individuals who are new to seeking benefits. While there is some overlap between SSD and SSI, there are also some fundamental differences.

In this post, the Cincinnati disability lawyers at Young, Reverman & Mazzei take a closer look at who is eligible for SSD and SSI, and how the programs vary.

Social Security Disability Insurance

Frustrated Couple With Woman In Wheelchair Reading Letter
SSD and SSI often generate confusion among disabled individuals who are new to applying for benefits.

One of the biggest differences between SSD and SSI is eligibility. Eligibility for SSD benefits is determined in part by an individual’s work history.

SSD benefits are funded through payroll tax contributions. To receive SSD benefits, you must first meet the Social Security Administration’s disability criteria, which defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that prohibits an individual from working and has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death.

SSD applicants must also have earned a certain level of work credits. These credits are earned by every employee who contributes to Social Security, and a maximum of four credits can be earned each year (one work credit per quarter). Eligible applicants for SSD benefits must:

  • Have earned between 6 and 40 work credits, depending on age
  • Have earned at least 20 credits within the 40 calendar quarters that end when the disability began
  • Be disabled for at least 5 months prior to applying for SSD benefits

SSD provides monthly benefits based on lifetime average earnings covered by Social Security with adjustments for any Workers’ Compensation payments or other public disability benefits you may receive. SSD benefits may also be paid to dependents, including a spouse or minor children.

SSD benefits are not affected by other financial assets, and benefits payments may receive an annual cost-of-living adjustment.

Supplemental Security Income

The SSI program also benefits disabled individuals and is managed by the Social Security Administration, but unlike SSD, SSI is funded through general tax revenues rather than payroll contributions. SSI is also intended for low-income individuals, and SSI benefits may be paid to disabled adults who meet income requirements, children who are blind or otherwise disabled, or citizens age 65 and older who are not disabled but meet certain financial restrictions.

Cute disabled pupil smiling at camera in hall at the elementary school
Children who are blind or otherwise disabled, and whose families meet income requirements, may qualify for SSI benefits.

Monthly SSI benefits payments are based on the federal benefit rate (FBR), subtracting any countable income and adjusting for allowable deductions. Any additional state supplements are also factored into the monthly payments.

In some cases, an individual may be eligible to receive both SSD and SSI benefits.

Qualifying for Both SSD and SSI Benefits

Those who qualify for both SSD and SSI may receive what are called “concurrent benefits.”

Eligibility for concurrent benefits depends on a number of factors that may change over time, such as a trial work period in which a disabled individual tests his or her ability to work while receiving benefits. Whether you’re receiving SSD, SSI or concurrent benefits, your condition and benefits status will be periodically reviewed by the Social Security Administration.

Legal Help for SSD and SSI Applicants

More than 10 million Americans receive SSD benefits, and more than 8 million receive SSI. But many disabled Americans don’t get the financial help they need because they give up in the middle of the confusing application process or don’t pursue an appeal if their application for benefits is denied.

While you are not required to hire an attorney to apply for SSD or SSI benefits, or to appeal a denied claim, it is your right to have an experienced disability lawyer on your side. A knowledgeable disability attorney can ensure that your application is complete and properly documented, or help you appeal a claim that you believe was wrongfully denied. In addition to improving your chances for a successful application or appeal, a lawyer can help relieve some of the stress you feel by managing every step of the process on your behalf.

If you have questions about applying for Social Security Disability benefits or appealing a rejected application, please call Young, Reverman & Mazzei today at 800-721-1678 or contact us online. Our attorneys have decades of experience fighting on behalf of disabled individuals from Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, and we offer free consultations to help you understand your options.

We welcome clients from the greater Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, areas, and we also serve clients from Kentucky via our Florence office and clients from Indiana via our Lawrenceburg office. For a complete list of offices and directions, please see our Locations page.