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Understanding the Difference Between SSI and SSDI

Donna Simpson Nov. 20, 2018

If you suffer from a disability, making ends meet can prove difficult. When you are suddenly unable to work due to a debilitating medical condition, you may have valid concerns about providing for your family.

Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers benefits that can aid persons with disabilities. Benefits such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income can give you the financial relief you need to pay your bills and expenses. These benefits do serve different purposes, however, and understanding their differences is crucial to determining the best possible pathway for you.

Not Everyone Is Eligible for SSDI

SSDI is a benefit that workers routinely pay into. Deductions for SSDI are taken directly from your paycheck, and you are typically eligible for this benefit if you have earned more than 20 quarters of coverage (QCs) in the past 10 years. You must also expect that your disability will last for at least 1 year or the remainder of your life.

Your SSDI benefits will account for your Social Security earnings records. If you were a high earner, you can expect a greater payment. SSDI benefits can also be payable to your children or spouse, should the situation warrant it.

SSI Can Provide Needed Financial Assistance

For those that do not qualify for SSDI, SSI can present a viable alternative. Where SSDI provides benefits for those who have worked for many years and paid into the system, SSI provides benefits for those who were unable to do so.

SSI benefit payments consider your current income, and there is a maximum federal rate. Many states, including Tennessee, offer supplementary benefits to complement your SSI.

Determining Which Benefit Is Right for You

The circumstances for each disability are unique. If you are considering applying for SSA benefits, it may be prudent to consult with an experienced attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer can offer you valuable guidance while making sense of an inherently complex process.