Special needs future planning should include guidance in applying for and determining how to remain eligible for government benefits such as SSDI and SSI. If this is your first time learning about the various benefits that are available, you may be wondering what the difference between SSDI and SSI is. Both programs provide benefits based on a person’s special needs, and both are managed by the Social Security Administration (SSA), but the two programs have different eligibility requirements, monthly payment calculations, and more.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
The SSDI program provides benefits to people who have a “disability” (a term defined by the SSA) from money contributed to the Social Security trust fund via deductions from their or their spouses or parents’ paychecks. Dependents may be eligible for SSDI based on their parent or guardian’s earnings record.
The SSA calculates SSDI monthly payment amounts based on workers’ lifetime average earnings covered by Social Security. If a worker receives receive workers’ compensation payments or public disability benefits from civil service or a state, the SSA may reduce the SSDI payment. Available resources and any other income do not matter when calculating payment amounts. Payments are adjusted each year for cost-of-living changes.
The average monthly SSDI benefit is $1,171 as of January 2017. The maximum monthly benefit, based on work history, is $2,687 in 2017. Benefits begin in the sixth full month of disability, and the six months is counted from the first full month after the date on which the SSA decided that the disability began. SSDI recipients automatically qualify for Medicare after a 24-month waiting period from the time benefits began, but there is no waiting period for people who have ALS.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
The SSI program provides benefits to older (age 65+), “disabled”, or blind people – including children – with limited resources and income. Tax revenues fund SSI benefits. Many states provide supplemental benefits in addition to those available through the federal SSI program, although the qualifications for and amounts available from the state programs vary widely. Illinois has no such supplemental benefits program.
The SSA calculates SSI payments using the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR). The FBR is $750 for an individual in 2018. The FBR is adjusted each year for cost-of-living changes. The individual with disabilities must report their income and resources to the SSA as part of applying for SSI benefits. Certain deductions are applied to the income, and the amount of income less deductions is called “countable income”. Then the SSA subtracts countable income from the FBR and adds in any available state supplemental benefit to determine how much you will receive. Before a child with disabilities turns 18, parents’ assets and income are generally deemed to be a resource for SSI benefit eligibility purposes.
Benefits begin in the full month after the date an SSI claim was filed or, if it is later, the date the SSA determines that the applicant is eligible for SSI. Finally, SSI recipients automatically qualify for Medicaid in most states.
Rubin Law is the only law firm in Illinois exclusively limited to providing compassionate special needs legal and future planning to guide our fellow Illinois families of children and adults with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, or mental illness down the road to peace of mind. For more information, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 866-TO-RUBIN.