Two major programs overseen by the Social Security Administration (SSA) provide financial assistance to people with disabilities. The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs are the largest forms of disability assistance supervised by the federal governmentbut there is some confusion about how they work.
Both are only available to individuals who meet certain medical criteria, but the severity of the recipient’s disability does not affect the amount of benefit offered. There is a list of conditions by which a recipient qualifies for the benefit if he has one.
Recipients who meet the medical requirements are then reimbursed based on other factors, such as their age, income level, earning history and personal situation. The medical requirements for both programs are the same and are expected to last at least a year or until death.
Who is eligible for SSI and SSDI payments?
At first glance, it may seem like Social Security disability insurance and supplemental income are very similar programs. However, the funding process and eligibility for each is very different and the two programs are designed to provide support to different groups of people with disabilities.
Social Security Disability Insurance: SSDI pays benefits to the person with disabilities and to selected family members if the subject of the program has worked long enough and paid enough Social Security taxes to qualify.
Additional security incomeIn contrast, SSI provides benefits to all adults and children with disabilities who have “limited income and resources,” regardless of their income history.
The changing demographics of the United States have changed the number of people eligible for SSDI, SSI, and other Social Security programs as the general population ages. Baby boomers, the postwar generation of high birthrate Americans, are now at the stage in their lives when they are most likely to need support with a disability.
Another factor is the growth in the number of women in the workplace over the past few decades, pushing more people to meet the income requirements of the SSDI. These trends have led to there are now more people receiving disability support from the SSA than ever before.
However, the SSA makes it clear: “Despite the increase, About 9 million people receive disability benefits represent only a small subset of Americans living with disabilities.”