When you suffer from an injury or illness that makes it difficult or impossible to work then it can feel like your whole world is ending. Thankfully the government understands that people in your shoes need their support, especially after spending a lifetime paying taxes on your income.

But, unfortunately, it can be an overly complicated experience trying to find the support that is right for your situation. It doesn’t help that different programs sound so similar, such as Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability; otherwise known as SSI and SSD (or SSDI). We’re going to look more in-depth at each of these to understand their value and their differences.

What Is Supplemental Security Income?

Supplemental Security Income actually isn’t paid for by the Social Security Administration, though they are the administrators of the program. Paid for with U.S Treasury funds, SSI provides Americans with financial help when they are suffering from a disability that limits their access to the income and resources necessary for living.

What Is Social Security Disability?

In the introduction, we mentioned the idea that you paid taxes into the government and these are important for getting disability benefits back later on. This is exactly how the SSD system works. Those who have a qualifying work history are able to seek benefits for their disabilities. They will look at your work history, as well as your spouse’s if you are married, to determine if you qualify.

What Are the Differences Between SSI and SSD?

The big difference between SSI and SSD is that the first is based on the limitations of an individual’s income due to their disability while deciding on their benefits while the latter considers the individual’s work history to decide on their benefits. Because they both look at different factors, it is possible to qualify for both SSI and SSD.

For a more detailed look at the differences between them let’s compare and contrast:

Benefits Begin: SSI benefits begin the first full month after the claim was filed. In contrast, SSD benefits can’t start until at least the 6th full month of dealing with the disability; this means six months not from when you first felt anything but from when the SSA determined the disability to have begun.
Average/Max Benefits: With SSI the average monthly benefit is roughly $600. The maximum benefit you can have with SSI for a month ranges between roughly $800 and $1250 depending on whether or not you are married. The average monthly benefit from SSD is roughly $1225. The maximum benefit you can have with SSD for a month is roughly $3350.
Medicaid: Those getting SSI automatically qualify for Medicaid but those who go through SSD must wait a two-year period from the time that benefits begin to qualify.

Can an Attorney Help?

Even with these differences laid out, you may still be wondering which is the best option for you and how much work you’re going to have to put into applying. If you aren’t positive about the best course of action, it is highly recommended that you meet with an attorney to discuss the situation. They will be able to help you decide on what is best for you, as well as offer support throughout the process itself.