As some point in your lifetime either you, or someone close to you, may need the benefits offered by the Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, program or the Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, program. In order to get the most out of the SSI and SSDI programs you must understand what benefits they offer and who qualifies for those benefits.
The SSI program is a federally funded program that provides monetary benefits to low income individuals who are blind, disabled, or over the age of 65. If you qualify for SSI benefits you may also qualify for other assistance programs such as Medicaid and Food Stamps. The SSI program is funded and administered by the U.S. federal government; however, some states provide additional funds over and above those paid out by the federal government for SSI recipients. If you are under the age of 65 you must be blind or disabled as well as meet income and resource limit guidelines. If you are over the age of 65 you do not need to be blind or disabled; however, you must still fall below the income and resource guidelines. The amount you will receive in SSI benefits each month depends on your income. The maximum SSI benefit amount for 2013 is $710 for an eligible individual, $1,066 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse, and $356 for an essential person. You may receive less than the maximum amount if you have income from another source. You could also receive more if your state adds benefits to the federal benefits.
Although the SSDI program also provides a monthly monetary benefit to disabled individuals, eligibility is based on your own personal work history not your current income. The SSDI program eligibility guidelines require you to have a qualifying disability and require you to have earned enough in covered earnings over your lifetime before you are eligible for benefits. The amount you receive each month is directly related to the amount of earnings you have accrued over your lifetime. To check your earnings history, or to get an estimate for the amount you would receive in SSDI payments, go to the Social Security Administration website. If you qualify for SSDI benefits your spouse and/or children may also be entitled to monthly benefits based on your earnings record.
If you think that you meet the eligibility guidelines for either the SSDI or SSI program you may apply in person, over the telephone, or online in some cases. The Social Security Administration home page provides information on how to apply to each program depending on your specific circumstances.
To learn more, please download our free Assistance for the Disabled – Understanding SSI and SSDI report.
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