Jorgensen Law

Should I apply for Social Security Disability or SSI?

The application process for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is the exact same as the process for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Mark, in Oceanside, California, asks “How do I know if I should apply for SSDI or SSI?”

The application process for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is the exact same as the process for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). There is one application that you fill out and the Social Security Administration (SSA) will decide which program you might qualify for.

The process that the examiner uses to determine if you are disabled is the exact same for SSDI and SSI.

For you to be eligible for SSDI, in addition to having a qualified disability, you must have worked recently and have earned enough work credits to qualify. SSDI is funded by a payroll tax that almost every working man/woman pays every month (it’s usually withheld from your paycheck by your employer). If you are able to earn over a certain amount, then you will not be eligible for SSDI. The SSA does not take into consideration the value of your assets when determining your eligibility for SSDI. The amount of money that you receive for SSDI, if you are found eligible, will depend mostly on how much you were making before you became disabled. The SSA provides some calculators that will give you a good estimate. (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/benefitcalculators.htm).

For you to be eligible for SSI, in addition to having a qualified disability, you must not have assets that are valued more than a certain amount (in 2009, this amount is $2,000 for an Individual and $3000 for a couple).

These assets do not include your primary residence or your primary vehicle. SSI is funded by the United States Government and is considered a welfare program. Any money you earn while collecting SSI will affect your SSI benefit payment. The more money you earn from employment, the smaller your SSI payment will be. There is a hard limit to the max amount of money that you can earn from SSI in a month. Currently, as of August 2009, that amount is $640 for an eligible individual and $1011 for an eligible couple.

If you have been denied SSDI or SSI benefits in the past, or if you are thinking about applying for the first time, you should consider talking with a qualified disability attorney. Click here to schedule a free consultation with an experienced disability attorney in the San Diego, Los Angeles, and Riverside areas, serving all of Southern California.