Now we are going to tell you something that is going to sound confusing and unimportant. But if you can read this and remember it, life is going to start making so much more sense.
Social Security has two different disability programs. They are called SSI and SSDI. They sound the same. And they look the same. And you apply for them the same way. But they are different. Social Security has done this deliberately to confuse you.
It gets better….
Social Security has two different health insurance programs. They are called Medicare and Medicaid. They sound the same. And they are both given out to people on disability. But they are different. See, they thought you were not already confused enough, so they are piling it on.
Put this all together and you get…
People on SSI get Medicaid
People on SSDI get Medicare (sometimes they get Medicaid too)
People on both SSI & SSDI get both Medicaid & Medicare
What am I on?
If you are already on disability and you do not know what kind of check you are getting, you are not alone. What am I on?
What am I applying for?
To find out what you are applying for, you can ask your lawyer, contact Social Security, read any paperwork you were sent, or check your online Social Security account. Sometimes people think they are applying for both when really they won’t be eligible for the SSI part. Am I Applying For Both SSI and SSDI?
What do these words mean?
SSDI stands for Social Security Disability Insurance.
SSI stands for Supplemental Security Income.
SSDI – For People Who Worked. SSDI is for people who have worked and paid Social Security tax. Not everyone who has worked qualifies. It depends how old you are, how much you worked, and how recently you worked. Did I Work Enough to Get SSDI?
SSI – For People Who Are Poor. SSI is for people who don’t qualify for SSDI or for people’s whose disability check is low (usually under $800). To get on SSI you must be low income and low assets. If you are married, they will also consider your spouse’s income and assets. SSI is also for disabled children whose parents are low income. Am I Poor Enough to Get SSI?
But wait! There’s More
There are a few other kinds of Social Security disability that are not SSI or SSDI:
🌷If you first became disabled before the age of 22, you might be eligible for “Disabled Adult Child Benefits.” This is similar to SSDI, but it’s really it’s own thing, so it gets it’s own page: How to Get Disabled Adult Child Benefits
🌷 If you are a widow or an ex-widow (your ex spouse died) you might be eligible for Social Security widow’s benefits. For disabled people, these can start at age 50. (For other people they start at age 60).
🌷 There are also other forms of Social Security that have nothing to do with being disabled: retirement benefits, dependent benefits, survivor’s benefits, etc.
Can I get both SSI and SSDI?
If your SSDI check is low, you may be able to get some SSI as well. Usually this means your check is $800 or less: How Much Will My SSDI Be?
How are SSI and SSDI different?
The medical decision is exactly the same. You apply the same way. You go to the same doctors. They make the decision about your disability exactly the same way.
The financial policies are completely different. For SSI, your financial information and financial decisions will be very important. For SSDI, your finances do not matter.
Why do I need to know this? Does it matter?
Yes! It is very important because….
If you get SSDI, you need to know that you are not required to follow all the SSI financial regulations, so you don’t make yourself crazy for no reason. If you have kids, you also need to know that you can probably get extra benefits for your kids, and possibly for your spouse. This does not happen automatically. You must sign up your kids to get the extra money.
If you get SSI, you need to know the SSI financial regs… otherwise your check could be lower and you won’t know why! Or you could wind up owing money back and you won’t know why! Some people get lower checks for ten or twenty years and never even realize it. Also, you might break some regs without realizing it. You certainly don’t want that. If you are still applying, then the way you are living now may affect your backpay check.
If you are on Disabled Adult Child Benefits, you will follow the same rules as SSDI. So you don’t have to learn all the crazy SSI financial rules. However, if you are on Medicaid and want to keep your Medicaid, then in most cases, you do want to keep following the same SSI financial rules.
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