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What is the Difference Between SSDI and SSI?

October 4, 20190
SSDIDifferences

Imagine this: You have spent most of your adult life working full-time and providing for your family when suddenly a car accident has left you with life-changing injuries. Emergency medical care led to surgery, which was followed by physical therapy. But you’re still in pain, unable to ever return to work, and worrying about your future.

You’ve bled through your savings. 

You’re scared. 

You don’t know where to turn.

Living the fullest life possible should be your focus. But that feels impossible without help. And truthfully, it is. 

You already know that the federal government provides assistance for those who cannot work due to a long-term medical condition or disability. But which program is right for you?

The Social Security Administration offers two financial programs for people who have disabilities. The first is called the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. The second is the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. These federal programs provide finances to those impacted by unexpected disabilities to ensure they are cared for and have a roof over their heads. 

The abbreviations of the federal programs may be similar, but the programs have clear distinctions that set them apart. Getting help through either program  is typically a long, complicated process that is difficult to navigate and often impossible to achieve alone. 

A Nebraska or Iowa Social Security Disability Attorney Can Help 

The Social Security Disability lawyers at Watson & Carroll, PC, LLO will do everything we can to advocate for your right to disability benefits. SSDI helps people like you move forward with their lives instead of faltering backward because they can’t work, pay their bills, and provide for their families.

We help clients build a strong case for benefits. Contact us to schedule a consultation with an attorney in Omaha or Lincoln. 

SSDI and SSI Overview 

In 2018, about 10 million people nationwide received SSDI or SSI benefits, according to the Social Security Administration.

The bulk of recipients across the country — 86.1 percent — were considered disabled workers, while 11.4 percent included disabled adult children, and 2.6 percent were disabled widows, the Social Security Administration said in its annual report. In 2018, the largest percentage of disabled workers were between ages 60 and 64.  

To qualify for monthly income, the Social Security Administration says you must have a medical condition that will last a year or more. The disability “must significantly limit your ability to do basic work activities — such as lifting, standing, walking, sitting, and remembering” or could lead to death. In 2018, the average age of a disabled worker was about 54.

In Nebraska, more than 45,000 people with disabilities — or about 4 percent of the population age 18-64 — received benefits. More than 18,000 beneficiaries in the Cornhusker state suffer from mental disorders. 

It’s important to know what Social Security benefits you qualify for before starting the application process. The lawyers at Watson & Carroll who specialize in Social Security Disability law can help you understand the system and secure the benefits you deserve. Give us a call at 402-991-2100 to get started. We provide free phone consultations to both Nebraska and Iowa residents. 

When Did Social Security Begin?

Social Security benefits were first signed into law in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The initial program paid benefits to retired workers over age 65. Since then, Social Security benefits have been expanded and modified several times until the program also became known as an economic security program for many – including those who have adults and children with disabilities. 

In 1956, President Dwight. D. Eisenhower signed into law disability legislation to provide monetary benefits to disabled workers through the Social Security Disability Insurance program. At that time, Eisenhower said, “We will … endeavor to administer the disability [program] efficiently and effectively, [and] … to help rehabilitate the disabled so that they may return to useful employment …. I am hopeful that the new law … will advance the economic security of the American people.” 

In the years that followed, Congress continued to expand the scope of the program and benefits for those in need. Dependents of disabled workers were given benefits and disabled workers under the age of 50 also became eligible for social security benefits. In 1967, benefits were also provided to disabled widows and widowers ages 50 to 64. 

Social Security programs rapidly expanded in the 1970s. By the 80s, federal lawmakers had strengthened the process to determine disability eligibility. At the same time, the federal government wanted to ensure states uniformly administered disability programs across the country.

 What is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, is funded by taxes paid by employers and working people. It operates on a pay-as-you-go funding model. In 2018, beneficiaries received about $144 billion. You can receive Social Security Disability Insurance if you paid enough Social Security taxes that are automatically taken out of paychecks. These payroll deductions are required by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) and the Self-Employment Contributions Act (SECA). Social Security is mostly paid for by payroll taxes collected from today’s workforce paying into the system. 

To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance, you need at least six work credits if you become disabled before the age of 24. Twelve work credits are required if you are between 24 and 31 years old. People older than 31 must have earned at least 20 work credits in the past 10 years before becoming disabled to receive Social Security Disability Insurance.

The Social Security Administration calculates monthly payments for Social Security Disability Insurance based on the worker’s lifetime average earnings covered by Social Security. The payment amount could be reduced if you received workers’ compensation payments or public disability benefits. The payments can be adjusted annually to account for changes to cost of living. The average monthly payment for Social Security Disability Insurance in Nebraska is about $1,036.

What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)? 

Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is needs-based. It pays benefits to people in need regardless of their ability to pay taxes by working. The program is funded by general revenues instead of Social Security taxes. In 2018, the program cost the U.S. about $55 billion.

People who may qualify: 

  • Adults 65 or older
  • Blind individuals 
  • Disabled adult
  • Disabled children under the age of 18

The federal program was signed into law in 1972 by President Richard Nixon after Congress engaged in lengthy discussions about how to reform and streamline adult assistance programs across the nation. The first Supplemental Security Income payments began in 1974. SSI replaced state administered programs including Old-Age Assistance, Aid to the Blind, Aid to the Permanently and Totally Disabled, and Grants to the states for aid to the aged, blind and disabled. The program took a large step by allowing blind and disabled children to be eligible for federal Social Security benefits for the first time. The Supplemental Security Income program was controversial at first, as politicians were concerned about the rapid increase of applicants who would seek social security benefits. 

More than 8 million people were registered as recipients in December 2018, with 4.7 million between 18 and 64 years old; 2.3 million 65 or older; and 1.1 million under 18 years old, according to the Social Security Administration. The average monthly federal payment for Supplemental Security Income in Nebraska is about $488.

Who Can Receive Social Security Disability benefits?

In 1954, federal law defined a disability as the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or to be of long-continued and indefinite duration.” Members of Congress said the impairment “must be of a nature and degree of severity sufficient to justify its consideration as the cause of failure to obtain any substantial gainful work … They will reflect the requirement that the individual be disabled not only for his usual work, but also for any type of substantial gainful activity.”

The Social Security Administration has strict standards for what qualifies as a long-term disability, so carefully review the criteria. The Social Security Administration classifies a disability as the impairment of at least one of 14 major body systems: musculoskeletal, special senses and speech, respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive, genitourinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin and subcutaneous tissue, endocrine, multiple body, neurological, mental, neoplastic, and immunologic.

Examples of conditions that could be covered: 

  • Cancer
  • Blindness
  • Mental health disorders
  • Neurological disorders
  • Musculoskeletal problems
  • Hearing loss
  • Respiratory illness
  • Kidney disease
  • Immune system disorders
  • Skin disorders
  • Cardiovascular conditions

How Do I Apply for Social Security Benefits?

As soon as you become disabled, you should begin the lengthy application process. The Social Security Administration can take three to five months to process an application for disability benefits. Processing of Social Security disability claims begins at local Social Security Administration (SSA) field offices and state agencies. Officials will determine if your medical condition qualifies with help from doctors and disability specialists who will evaluate your condition. Applications may be accepted in person, by mail, phone or by filling out an online application

Nebraska has field offices in Omaha, Lincoln, Grand Island, Norfolk, North Platte and Scottsbluff. The contact info for the for Nebraska Disability Determinations Services officers: 

Omaha Office
604 N 109th Ct
Omaha, NE 68154
1-866-716-8299

Lincoln Office
100 Centennial Mall N
Lincoln, NE 68508
(866) 593-2880

Grand Island Office
115 N Webb Rd
Grand Island, NE 68803
(308) 385-6440

North Platte Office
300 E 3rd St Rm 204
North Platte, NE 69101
(308) 532-9502

Norfolk Office
605 Iron Horse Dr
Norfolk, NE 68701
(402) 371-1595

Scottsbluff Office
415 Valley View Dr
Scottsbluff, NE 69361
(308) 635-2158

For the application you will need to provide:

  • Your Social Security number; date of birth and location you were born. Include your birth certificate and proof of citizenship.
  • The name, Social Security number and date of birth of your current spouse and any former spouse. Please also include dates and places of marriage, divorce and/or death.
  • Names and dates of birth of your minor children
  • Your bank account number and routing transit number 
  • Annual income earned last year and this year
  • The name and address of your employer for this year and last year; including W-2 forms
  • A list of the jobs that you had in the 15 years before you became unable to work and dates of employment
  • List workers’ compensation and other benefits you have filed or intend to file.
  • Full details about your medical illnesses, injuries or conditions to include:
    • Names, addresses, phone numbers, patient ID numbers and dates of treatment for all doctors, hospitals and clinics;
    • List all medication and the name of the doctors who prescribed them
    • Names and dates of medical tests you have had, the results and the names of the medical representatives who requested them.

Medical conditions or disabilities must be severe to qualify for Social Security benefits. If it is not, you won’t be considered disabled and will be denied benefits. Nebraska has one of the highest rates of approval at 41 percent, which is higher than the national average. If you have already applied and have been denied benefits, you can hire a lawyer from Watson & Carroll to help you lodge an appeal. Nebraska. The chances of winning an appeal are higher if you have legal representation. 

The experienced and compassionate attorneys at Watson & Carroll can help

With top legal experience combined with medical expertise, we help our clients secure their right to Social Security Disability. The attorneys at Watson & Carroll have the training, compassion, and the commitment to fight for you until the successful end. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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