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What’s The Difference Between SSI And SSD?

June 18, 2014

If you or a family member become disabled, there are two types of Social Security benefits you may qualify for:  Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

SSD is an earned benefit, based on the severity of your physical or mental impairment, and whether the impairment is severe enough to keep you from working in your normal occupation or any other work for more than a year, or the condition is expected to be fatal. It pays benefits to blind or disabled workers, their children widows/widowers, and to adults who have always been disabled and unable to work.

It is funded by workers and employers and the self-employed.

SSI, on the other hand, pays benefits to low-income people to disabled adults, low-income people who are older than age 65, and to children who are disabled or blind. It is only for people who have limited assets.

It is not funded by workers and employers, and was created to replace a host of state benefits; it is unrelated to a person’s work record.

Determining if you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits can take years, unless you are diagnosed with one of the conditions on the Compassionate Allowance List, in which case qualifying will only take weeks or months. You’ll need to produce medical evidence for your SSD claim. While you should produce as much evidence as possible, keep in mind that the SSA weighs some evidence more heavily than others. Evidence and observations from family members, teachers, or professionals like chiropractors and nurses familiar with your condition, is important. But the evidence that the SSA deems most credible comes from acceptable medical sources, such as:

  • Licensed physicians
  • Licensed or certified psychologists
  • Licensed optometrists
  • Licensed podiatrists
  • Qualified speech-language pathologists

According to the Social Security Administration, the report of your condition should include “a thorough medical history, and all pertinent clinical and laboratory findings (both positive and negative) from your examination … Copies of laboratory results should be provided if available. Also provide the results of any mental state examination.” Your doctor should also report his or her opinion about which work-related activities you could still do despite your impairment.

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