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Difference between Social Security Disability Benefits and Supplemental Security Income

At Sharon Christie Law, a Baltimore Social Security Disability Law Firm, we are often asked to talk about the topic, the difference between Social Security Disability Benefits and Supplemental Security. Income In this video, Sharon Christie examines this topic the difference between Social Security Disability Benefits and Supplemental Security Income, and what those key differences are. 

Official Transcript: Difference between Social Security Disability Benefits and Supplemental Security Income

Hi I’m Sharon Christie your nurse attorney for social security disability benefits. Most people are surprised to learn that the social security administration actually administers two disability programs.


The one that we’re almost familiar with is the social security disability insurance program it’s also called ssdi. Now in order to file under ssdi you have to have worked long enough paying your social security tax. That’s the the very first requirement. So if you’ve worked most of your adult life and you’ve worked paying social security taxes then that’s not going to be a problem, then you file your application under the social security disability insurance program. There is a different program or another program for people who do not have enough work quarters called the ssi or supplemental security income program. Now that is what we call an asset based program.
So in order to apply under that program you have to have very limited assets and family income because they do consider family income. The ssi program as I said is for people who do not have enough work quarters or in some cases you may have enough work quarters but you can still qualify for some additional payment under the ssi program if you meet the asset limitations and that gets very technical. But we do have cases that are called concurrent cases, meaning they’re filed under both programs.
What’s different about the programs is who can qualify to apply under each program, but everything else about these two programs is the same in terms of how they’re processed. The definition of disabled is the same. You have to have severe limitations from your health problems that prevent you from doing substantial gainful activity for at least 12 consecutive months. That’s the same definition for both programs. The process once you’ve filed your claim is the exact same for both programs, you go through the initial stage where your case is processed. It’s reviewed by social security doctors, we get a decision and if it’s denied we move on to the reconsideration stage. That’s the stage where we’re asking for a second opinion so the case is then transferred to an entirely new group of people and doctors at social security for review. We get another decision and if there’s a denial a second time then we ask for a hearing with the judge. The process of the hearing with the judge is exactly the same for both the ssdi social security disability insurance cases and the ssi supplemental security income cases.
So the difference is in terms of who can qualify to apply under each program. There’s also a significant difference in most cases between what the monthly benefit would be because under the ssdi program it’s based on your earnings history. The average is about fifteen hundred dollars, yours could be more or less depending on how much you earned while you were working, but the average is about 1500 a month. Under the ssi program the maximum you can receive is 793 a month. There could be some deductions taken if you are living say with family members and get free room and board so there’s a significant difference there. But the requirements to be found disabled are exactly the same. So if you’re unsure whether you should file under ssdi or ssi you absolutely should talk to your lawyer about that and he or she can explain that to you.

The Path to Social Security Disability Benefits with Sharon Christie Law

Step 1: Understanding Social Security’s Definition of Disabled

The definition of disabled, according to Social Security, is that you have severe limitations from your health problems that keep you from doing any kind of work for at least 12 consecutive months. This is the first thing we look at when evaluating your case. Your diagnosis is just the starting point. To get disability benefits for you, we must prove that your disabling condition causes severe limitations in your day to day activities.

Step 2: Medical Records in Your Disability Case

You must have medical evidence to prove your disability case. The most important evidence is your medical records that show your diagnosis, your symptoms, and your response to treatment.

Step 3: Don’t go it alone: How Sharon Christie Law Can Help You

At Sharon Christie Law, a Social Security Disability Law Firm, we recognize that no one ever plans to get so sick that they have to stop working. When you need to apply for Social Security Disability Benefits we recognize that you will be anxious about the process and whether you can qualify for disability benefits. Our goal at Sharon Christie Law is to help you win your case and give you the financial stability you need! Why work with us?

We do it all for you: At Sharon Christie Law we handle all aspects of the case for you, from preparing and filing your application through the hearing with a judge. We are with you every step of the way.  When working with us, you focus on feeling better, and we focus on winning your case.

We return your phone calls: We understand that you have many questions regarding Social Security Disability Benefits. We never want you to wonder what is happening with your case. We are here to answer your questions. All phone calls and emails are returned within 24 hours. That is our promise to you.

We believe in client education: The Social Security Disability process is confusing. We think it is important that you understand each step in the process. So, we created a section on our website that is accessible only to clients. This client’s only section tells you everything you need to know about the disability process.