SSA Programs: Which Should You Choose?

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Government programs can be confusing. The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees several programs that unfortunately frequently are confused with each other. For some information to help you apply to the right program, read on.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

This program under the umbrella of the SSA may be known to many as simply "disability." It's aimed at those who might have worked in the past but not enough to qualify for the other program (SSDI). You must show that you have a medical or mental health condition that makes it impossible to work at any job in the area. However, this program is unique in that it is also offered to those who would be unable to work regardless of their age. Children and adult disabled people who have never worked can be approved for benefits if they meet the disability requirements.

The main qualifier for SSI is income and assets. Those who apply for benefits can only own so much property and have a certain amount of income. The amount recipients may earn can change from time to time. It's also important to know that not all types of income are counted.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

This government program is aimed at people who were previously working and earning income but had to stop because of a medical disorder. Unlike SSI, SSDI is not concerned with how much property you have. You may have a home, vehicles, and bank accounts of any size and value and still qualify for SSDI.

However, applicants must have recent work experience to qualify. The SSA tracks previous income using work credits. The worker earns a certain amount of work credits during a certain time period. They have special rules for young people who may not have had the opportunity to accumulate work credits. However, the rules for earning income can be strict. You cannot be working when you apply for SSDI. After you are approved, special programs may allow you to earn some income each month and remain on the program.

The main problem with both types of disability plans is that it is very difficult to be approved. If you have identified the appropriate program for your needs but got turned down, you may need legal help. Speak to a Social Security Disability lawyer about helping you get benefits at your appeal hearing. They can help you show that you have a medical or mental disorder that is covered under the SSA rules.