How does one know whether to apply for SSDI or SSI?

For Missouri residents who are unable to work due to a disability, Social Security disability benefits can provide much-needed financial relief. There are two types of disability benefits offered by the Social Security Administration: Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income.

Whether an individual will qualify for SSDI or SSI will depend on their work history. SSDI is intended to provide benefits for individuals who worked for a number of years before they became disabled. These individuals have paid into the Social Security system through payroll taxes. An individual must have earned sufficient credits through their payroll tax contributions, made over their working life, to qualify for SSDI benefits. The disability can be physical or mental, but it must be expected to last for at least 12 months or until the applicant’s death.

The amount of SSDI benefits payable to an individual will depend on his or her earnings record. Higher earnings will translate to higher monthly SSDI benefits.

SSI is a program for low-income individuals who do not have a sufficient work history to qualify for SSDI. SSI benefits are funded by revenue from general taxes. In addition to disabled adults, people who may qualify for SSI benefits include those who are age 65 or older, and children who are disabled or blind. Eligibility for SSI benefits is not based on work history, but on the applicant’s financial need. The SSA has income requirements that determine eligibility for SSI.

Figuring out which type of benefits one qualifies for can be a complex issue. Once an individual determines the correct type of benefits to apply for, the application process can be confusing and intimidating, requiring the submission of voluminous documentation to the SSA. An experienced Social Security disability benefits lawyer can help an applicant navigate the process.

Source:, “What is the Difference Between SSDI and SSI?” accessed Jan. 8, 2016

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