In times of hardship, every possible source of support can make a lot of difference. This way, people may avoid getting into financial trouble. The typical image of support that most people think of is donations and charity assistance that private organizations provide. However, there are more sources and forms of assistance that people should be aware of when looking for financial aid. This includes the federal support options that have been helping millions of Americans for years. One great source of federal assistance is the Social Security Administration (SSA), which offers two effective programs to help those in need:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Sometimes, people might confuse these two programs, while others don’t even know they exist. If you want to find out whether you can benefit from these opportunities, you should keep on reading!
SSA Support Opportunities for People in Need
Dealing with a disability will likely affect a person’s ability to secure a job and make an acceptable living. Luckily, the government understands the difficult situation that many people with disabilities might go through on a daily basis. It’s also aware of the financial challenges seniors with low incomes are facing. For this reason, the government provides financial support to people in need through SSI and SSDI, which are run by SSA. With this in mind, it’s important to understand that each program comes with a different package of requirements, benefits, etc. To better explain the specifics of each option, we will talk about:
- What are the Specifics of SSDI?
- What are the Specifics of SSI?
- How Can I Apply for SSDI and SSI?
What are the Specifics of SSDI?
SSDI is designed to help people with qualifying disabilities who have an employment history and are enrolled in the Social Security system. In order to be able to provide participants with their benefits, the program receives funding from payroll taxes. One of the best advantages that come with this program is that a recipient can start receiving Medicare (which is medical insurance) after two years of receiving SSDI benefits.
How Much Does SSDI Pay in Benefits?
Generally speaking, SSDI recipients will get different amounts of money. That’s because the program uses the applicant’s average lifetime earnings and the SSA’s benefit formula to determine how much money they can receive. However, the average monthly payment in 2023 will be about $1,483. It could be such a loss if you are eligible for this much money and you don’t know it! The exact amount you will get depends on the SSA’s calculations, which consider your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME) and primary insurance amount (PIA).
Furthermore, if you qualify for the maximum benefit for the same year, you will receive $3,627 every month. Nonetheless, you should remember that these numbers might change for different reasons. It depends on things like annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) or when a recipient’s situation changes. For this reason, it’s crucial that you keep the SSA posted on any updates. You also need to check out the SSA website every year to see if there are any changes.
It’s important to note that SSDI is not available to every disabled individual. Rather, it takes into account a few factors to determine a person’s eligibility. These factors may include work history and the severity of the disability.
What are the Specifics of SSI?
Not only people with disabilities but also blind people and senior citizens (over the age of 65) can be eligible for SSI if they meet the income requirement. That’s important to keep in mind since SSI is a need-based program, which means it looks at applicants’ incomes and resources. This program is funded through general tax revenues. Unlike SSDI, you won’t have to wait for two years to start getting Medicare. Instead, you will immediately qualify for Medicaid once you start taking part in SSI.
How Much Does SSI Pay in Benefits?
The federal benefit rate (FBR) and the recipient’s countable income are the two factors used to determine SSI payments. Some examples of countable income may include:
- Earned income (paychecks, self-employment earnings)
- Unearned income (unemployment benefits, Social Security benefits, pensions)
- In-kind support (like donations).
To determine how much money you will exactly get, the program subtracts your countable income from the FBR. Simply put, the FBR refers to the highest monthly payment a person may get. It’s worth noting that the FBR may change every year, especially with inflation and annual adjustments. However, in 2023, the FBR was:
- $914 for individuals
- $1,371 for couples
How Can I Apply for SSDI and SSI?
Since both programs have different target populations and eligibility requirements, you should expect them to have different application processes. In both processes, you will be required to demonstrate your situation (medical or financial). If you think you qualify for any of these opportunities, you shouldn’t hesitate to apply as soon as you can.
The SSDI Application Process
In order to take advantage of SSDI, you will normally need to prove that you qualify for benefits. This means that you will be required to provide paperwork that describes your circumstances. Here are a few types of information and documentation that you will likely need to prepare:
- Birth certificate
- Social Security number
- Work history
- Medical records
- A detailed description of your disability
A good rule of thumb is to gather these documents before applying. This can make the process easier and faster. The next step will be submitting an application, which you can do in a variety of ways. This includes an online application, calling 1-800-772-1213, or going to your local Social Security office to apply in person. The first option is probably better since it doesn’t take time or effort. To submit an online application, all you have to do is go to the SSA website and follow the instructions. The application is 100% free!
After submitting your application, you should expect to get a written decision. This process usually takes three to five months. Hopefully, you will be accepted, but if your application is rejected, you will have 60 days to file an appeal of the decision.
The SSI Application Process
This application is also free! However, the type of information you will need to provide for the SSI application process is a little different from the SSDI. That’s because SSI takes into consideration different factors. In general, you should be prepared to provide personal information (like name and birth date) and contact information (like phone number and email). Since eligibility depends on the financial situation and disability status (for people with disabilities), there might be more information required regarding your circumstances.
If you are struggling financially, you should understand that federal support is available. Financial difficulties might get even worse if you are dealing with disabilities or are over the age of 65. For this reason, you should look for assistance that suits your circumstances. Fortunately, the SSA has two excellent programs that aim to assist those in need with monthly payments, SSDI and SSI. The exact amount a recipient may get will typically vary according to different factors. However, both applications are free. The SSA’s website provides a lot of information and guidance for people who want to learn more about these opportunities. So, make sure to check it out.