Should I apply for SSI or SSDI or both?

Pathfinders for Autism, a friend of the disabilities community, has put together some valuable information about applying for SSI and SSDI benefits. SSI (supplemental security income) is not the same as SSDI (social security disabilities insurance). The first thing you need to know when applying for disability benefits is the difference between the two. If your child has an IEP and needs support services at home it is critical to know what your options are. Keep in mind, SSI and SSDI are not limited to developmental and physical disabilities, these benefits could apply to mental health conditions such as PTSD and schizophrenia.



By Michael Dalto, SSI and SSDI Consultant

Download a printable version of “You Know About SSI and Work… Now What About Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Work?”

Rule number one for bureaucrats trying to confuse the public is: Give very different benefits very similar names. “SSI” and “SSDI” differ by only one letter, but they are quite different. It’s important to be informed about them both.
My son/daughter gets SSI. Why should I learn about SSDI?
Just because a person gets only SSI now doesn’t mean s/he will always get SSI. Many people are later switched from SSI to SSDI. And if they are eligible for SSDI, they MUST accept the switch. They are not allowed to just keep SSI and forgo SSDI.

What’s the difference between SSI and SSDI?
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a monthly payment for people who are disabled (or at least 65 years old) and have income and assets below certain limits. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a monthly payment for people who are disabled and are “insured”. They become insured when they (or a certain family member) has worked and paid Social Security taxes on their earnings for a long enough period.

Who can qualify for SSDI?
A person can qualify for SSDI if s/he has a disability that limits his/her work ability (but does not necessarily prevent him/her from working) and if s/he has “insured” status through work. A young adult with a disability may get SSDI if either s/he or a parent has worked long enough to be insured.

S/he qualifies for SSDI on his/her own work record if s/he has worked and paid Social Security taxes on his/her earnings long enough to be insured. Usually, a person must have worked at least 5 out of the last 10 years to be insured, but a person under age 31 may qualify with less work.

S/he qualifies for SSDI on a parent’s work record if the parent has worked long enough to be insured, and the parent is now:

1. Receiving a Social Security Retirement benefit, OR
2. Receiving SSDI on his/her own record, OR
3. Deceased

To qualify, the son/daughter with a disability must be:

• At least 18 years old, AND
• Have been disabled since before age 22

SSDI received on a parent’s work record is called a Childhood Disability Benefit (CDB) or Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefit.

A person who gets SSDI on either his/her own work record or a parent’s record will qualify for Medicare after s/he has been entitled for 2 years.

CLICK HERE to read the full article.



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External Resources

Administration for Community Living

Pathfinders for Autism

Disability Scoop

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

National Center for PTSD