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Understanding the Difference Between SSDI & SSI

Before you apply for Social Security disability benefits in Indianapolis, it helps to have a basic understanding of the difference between SSDI and SSI. While each program deals with providing much-needed assistance for the disabled, these programs are very different from each other. When you work with an Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer, your attorney can help to explain the differences between the programs. More important, they can help you to determine the most appropriate option for you.

What is SSI?


SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited financial resources.

This program offers a determined amount of money to people who are: 

  • Aged 65 or older
  • Blind
  • Disabled

In order to be eligible for SSI benefits, you must earn a limited amount of income, as well as meet the program’s assets requirements. In most cases, as of 2010, you will be required to have less than $2,000 in assets, or less than $3,000 in assets between you and your spouse. In this case, your assets won’t include burial plots, life insurance policies, your home or your car. Your Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer will likely ask you many questions about your income and assets in order to understand where you fall within these guidelines.

What is SSDI?


SSDI, or Social Security Disability Insurance, is a program funded by Social Security taxes. By its strict definition, SSDI pays benefits to people who cannot work because of a medical condition. This medical condition must be expected to last for a minimum of 12 months or until the time of death.

Therefore, if you have a short-term disability-say, for instance, a broken leg that is likely to heal completely within 2 months-you will not be eligible for SSDI. There are various requirements for eligibility for SSDI benefits. These requirements relate to your age at the time of your injury, and the amount of time that you have worked and paid Social Security taxes. The Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer who you choose to represent your case can help you to evaluate your work history and medical condition(s) to see if SSDI is the correct program for you.

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits

You can apply for SSI or SSDI online via the Social Security’s website, or you can make your claim by phone. The disability claims interview generally lasts about 1 hour. To apply, you will need to submit an application for Social Security benefits, and submit your Disability Report.

Information that you will need to provide for these forms includes:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your birth certificate or baptismal certificate
  • Medical records that relate to your disability
  • A summary of your work history
  • A copy of your most recent W-2 Form or, if you are self-employed, your most recent federal tax return

In addition to this information, you must submit additional forms. These additional forms will require information about your medical condition, and give physicians who treated you permission to release information to the Social Security office. After everything has been submitted, the application process can take between 3 and 5 months. Because the process can be quite complicated and any mistakes (including paperwork that is not correctly filled out, or missed deadlines) will likely result in a denial of claims, many people choose to have an Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer help them file or appeal their disability benefits application.

Determining Benefits for Social Security Disability

When determining SSI and SSDI benefits, the Social Security Office will consider:

  • Whether you are currently working
  • Whether your condition is severe
  • Whether you can return to the work that you did before
  • Whether you can do another type of work

To receive benefits, you:

  • Must earn less than a certain amount of income
  • Must have a condition that limits you significantly
  • Must not be able to return to the work you did before your disability

While the requirements for SSI and SSDI differ, the programs are similar in that, the application for either program can be very frustrating and time-consuming. Your Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer should act as your advocate in this process and handle all of the hassles and headaches of filing for disability while you focus on tending to your physical and emotional needs.