What’s the difference between SSI and SSDI? Well, the federal government has two types of disability insurance. SSDI is based on how much you’ve earned over the years (the more you’ve earned, the more $ you’ll get every month from SSDI). SSI is for those who haven’t earned (like you’re 18 when you became disabled), haven’t earned enough to qualify (two years) or just over that. An example would be if someone in their 40’s worked solidly since they were 18 they would probably earn about 1,800 per month from SSDI. If they have never worked then they’d probably only get about $800 from SSI.
SSI (Supplemental Security Income) is strictly needs based and where you would turn to if you became disabled and aren’t eligible for SSDI benefits. They don’t care about your work history, just that you have less than $2,000 in assets (or $3,000 if you’re married) and a very limited income. Benefits start on the first of the month that you apply, so if you apply on September 10th, the benefits will be retroactive to September 1st once the paperwork is processed. If you are approved for SSI, you’re also eligible for Medicaid Insurance and food stamps (no waiting period). This is the “disability” that has some stigma attached to it by disgruntled hard working, able bodied folk who think it’s unfair that these people get to receive a check every month without having ever put into the system. True, there are some scammers out there, but this is also in place to protect those innocent 18 year olds that want very much to work, but can’t because they have a life threatening disease so there is a balance in this “Disability” debate.
Both programs are managed by the Social Security Administration, both are types of disability coverage, so if you’re envisioning the little old lady who gets her social security check in the mail, this is NOT that. Well, not exactly. If I’m still disabled by the time I’m 65 then then my SSDI will roll over to Social Security like this nice lady. No change in amount, just the department it comes from. I just discovered that one and I’m glad to hear it because I’ve kind of been saying “I’m semi-retired” or “I’m in early retirement” since I knew the benefits were for life, the guy asking me what I do was gorgeous with a lovely accent and well, there you have it.
I did quite a bit of research on the subject and found that you can collect both SSI and SSDI at the same time. Well, you can collect the difference that is. My guy at the local SSDI office explained it to me and said that IF the SSDI monthly payment I received was less than the SSI payment I’m due then I could collect both, but only UP TO the amount of the SSI benefit.
Remember, I’m still learning as I go along and sharing as I learn and right now I know more about SSDI than SSI, but I’ll keep digging and sharing as I learn…
The bottom line is that if you have a work history of two years or more then you should apply for SSDI. If you don’t, then you should apply for SSI. You can apply for both, but don’t bother if you have a long work history and the SSDI benefit due to you is higher than the SSI benefit you’d receive. Get it?
In any case, you should always reach for assistance filling out these forms (so many forms) any chance you can get. Between stress and chemo it’s a lot to ask of your brain to try and sort through it all without making any mistakes or missing any info, which will in return delay the process of getting money into your poor lil hands, so count to three…swallow that pride and let’s get that paperwork done right the first time~
The Advocator Group is who I went through for SSDI: http://www.advocator.com/
There’s a toll free number at the top of their website.
Take a look around their site first before calling: Toll-free: (877) 261-1947
This page in particular will help you determine if you’re eligible for SSDI: http://www.advocator.com/learn-about-ssdi/ssdi-eligibility/
They do take a small percentage of the initial SSDI award, but to me it was totally worth it not to have to deal with all the confusing paperwork and risk being declined for not filling them out properly.