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Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a United States government program that provides stipends to low income people who are either aged 65 or older, blind, or disabled. It is a disability program intended to help individuals who are not insured for Social Security disability. Individuals who have not worked, who have worked very little, who have worked in the past but are no longer currently insured for Social Security disability, and children. It provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.


In most cases, a person who receives SSI immediately qualifies for Medicaid benefits. The SSI disability program has no required waiting period; SSI disability beneficiaries are potentially eligible to begin their disability benefits with the month they filed for disability.

SSI disability allows no possibility of benefits for dependents. SSI disability benefits are payable to the disabled individual only. 

SSI has a very strict set of financial requirements. In 2016, the federal SSI payment standard is $733 per month for an individual. In addition, SSI benefits are reduced by any other income received by an SSI beneficiary, so many SSI recipients will receive less than the $733 payment standard. It is important to note that the payment standard is $1,100 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse. It is funded by general tax revenues (not Social Security taxes).


To understand supplemental security income for children click the following link to the Social Security Administration website.


Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is an earned benefit that focuses on physical and mental impairments that are severe enough to prevent people from engaging in their normal occupations or any other work. It was created to allow workers who become disabled to receive their Social Security retirement benefits early. The impairment(s) must be expected to last for at least 12 months or to end in death. SSDI benefits can be paid to blind or disabled workers, and like Social Security retirement benefits, to their children, to their widows or widowers, and to adults who haven't worked but have been disabled since childhood. 


SSDI beneficiaries are eligible to receive Medicare two years after they are deemed eligible for SSDI benefits. Social Security disability requires a five month waiting period beginning with the first full month after the date the beneficiary became unable to perform substantial work activity because of their disabling condition (unless their substantial gainful work activity began the first day of the month) to be eligible for disability benefits to begin.


Social Security disability may pay a disabled worker’s dependents monthly benefits based upon the disabled individual’s record, provided there is any remaining money on the record after the disabled worker is paid their disability benefit. Social Security disability has a family maximum payable on a disabled worker’s record. 

The amount payable to dependents is the difference between the disabled worker’s disability benefits and the family maximum. If there is no difference, there is no money to pay dependents.

In order for you to apply for SSDI, you need to have enough work credits based on taxable employment to be covered for Social Security purposes. Since SSDI is based on FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) taxes you paid throughout your working career, it entirely disregards how much money you have or do not have.

The number of work credits needed for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.

The rules are as follows:

  • Before age 24--You may qualify if you have 6 credits earned in the 3-year period ending when your disability starts.

  • Age 24 to 31--You may qualify if you have credit for working half the time between age 21 and the time you become disabled. For example, if you become disabled at age 27, you would need credit for 3 years of work (12 credits) out of the past 6 years (between ages 21 and 27).

  • Age 31 or older--In general, you need to have the number of work credits shown in the chart.

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