The Social Security Administration (SSA) processes countless disability filings for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance). Before they tackle the often complex and difficult process of applying for Social Security benefits in New Orleans, applicants are advised to seek legal help. The assistance of an experienced disability law firm in New Orleans can help answer questions and make this daunting process a lot easier. 

What Is SSI? 

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a benefits program that offers minimum financial assistance to seniors (65 years and above) and persons with disabilities (regardless of age) with limited income and resources. SSI benefits from the SSA are often supplemented by state programs. 

What Is SSDI? 

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD) is a benefits program for disabled individuals with a qualifying work history and is accessed either through their employment or a family member (parent/spouse). To qualify for this program, you must have worked for the past ten years before you became disabled. Also, your disability must be permanent or preclude you from working for no less than 12 months. 

The Difference Between SSI and SSDI, from a Disability Lawyer

The process of qualifying and applying for SSI and SSDI benefits differ in the following ways: 

1. Need-based Qualification (SSI) vs. Work-based Entitlement (SSDI) 

While SSI and SSDI have similarities, such as both being administered by the SSA and requiring that claimants prove their disability, there are differences in requirements for eligibility and the benefits that one is entitled to receive. 

The SSI program is based on financial needs. As such, it is not required that a person who is disabled or who has an applicably dire financial need have a given work record or have made payments into the Social Security system. Instead, disability payments are provided to the claimant based on financial needs requirements and proven disability. However, there is a cap on the amount of money an individual can have to be eligible for SSI payments. 

In contrast, SSDI is a work-based entitlement, meaning an individual filing for this disability claim should have paid into the Social Security system for at least 10 years. Additionally, their case needs to fall within the SSDI disability criteria. A disabled individual who does not meet the work history requirement will not be entitled to receive SSDI disability payments. 

2. SSDI Benefits are Based on Your Income 

SSDI benefits are often more substantial compared to SSI benefits, given that they are partially based on payments made into the Social Security system. While SSI benefits are more of a fixed monthly income, SSDI income varies based on an individual’s earning history. This means that a high-earning individual who became disabled due to an accident will receive substantial SSDI benefits compared to the benefit amounts received by individuals who earned less when they were able to work. 

3. Recipients of SSI Benefits May Need to Reorganize Assets 

As mentioned earlier, SSI benefits are needs-based. As such, you need to prove financial insecurity when claiming disability payments. In other words, an individual with substantial assets may not qualify for Social Security benefits. 

Because there is a chance of being disqualified or denied this benefit, some disabled individuals are forced to reorganize their assets to qualify for disability benefits under SSI. 

4. SSDI Recipients are Automatically Eligible for Medicare 

People who qualify for SSDI will automatically become eligible for Medicare. However, this coverage is only available two years after you begin receiving SSDI benefits. During this 2-year waiting period, the SSDI beneficiary may be eligible for health insurance via their former employer.  

SSI and SSDI Frequently Asked Questions 

Here are some frequently asked questions disability lawyers receive about SSI and SSDI: 

Can I Receive Both SSI and SSDI? 

Yes. You can receive SSI and SSDI at the same time. This is referred to as “concurrent benefits” by the SSA. However, drawing the SSDI benefits can make you eligible for one or reduce your SSI payment. This is due to the difference in the program’s eligibility criteria and intent. 

How Do I Apply for SSI or SSDI? 

You can apply for supplemental security income online if you are an adult with a disability. Unfortunately, if you are applying as a non-disabled senior aged 65+ or on behalf of a disabled child under the age of 18, you will not be able to apply online. These individuals can either visit their local Social Security office or contact 1-800-772-1213 on Monday through Friday between 7am and 7pm. 

Application for SSDI benefits can be made online regardless of age. You may also apply for SSDI benefits by calling Social Security at the above number. 

By contacting a personal injury lawyer from a local disability law firm, New Orleans residents can receive assistance with filling out the SSI or SSDI application, as well as with gathering medical records and other evidence needed for their claim. Call Dudley DeBosier in New Orleans to schedule a free consultation with a disability lawyer. 

How Does Social Security Define Disability? 

Social Security defines disability based on one’s ability to perform work and the forecasted duration of the disability. It mandates that you submit your medical records to support your application. You will not qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits if your disability will last a short duration or is partial.  

What is the Duration for Processing an SSI or SSDI Application? 

How long it takes to process these benefits varies by case. However, on average, it takes about 3-5 months from the application date. 

Individuals with serious disabilities are classified under Compassionate Allowance (CAL) and will receive an expedited evaluation of their applications. No special process or form is required for CAL applicants. 

What Happens If My SSI or SSDI Application Is Rejected? 

Not all SSI/SSDI applications are approved. If you believe you are eligible for these benefits and were wrongly denied, you can consult a New Orleans disability lawyer familiar with Social Security disability policy to represent you. 

Contact a New Orleans Disability Lawyer

As outlined above, there are distinct differences between SSI and SSDI benefits. Apart from understanding the differences between these benefits, it is also important to understand that there are circumstances in which having an attorney can help with your disability claim. 

If you believe you are eligible for SSI/SSDI benefits, the New Orleans disability law firm, Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers, can handle your disability claim. 

At Dudley DeBosier, every prospective plaintiff gets a free case assessment. Contact us today or fill out our free initial consultation form. The difference between us and other law firms is simple: We care about people. 

This post was reviewed by the lawyers at the New Orleans Dudley DeBosier office.

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