SSDI v. SSI

Chicago Lawyers for Social Security Claims

There are several government programs set up to help you if you become disabled such that you cannot work in Chicago. You may be confused about the differences between two of the programs administered by the federal Social Security Administration: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Generally, Social Security Disability Income is available to workers that have enough work credits. Supplemental Security Income is available to people who are low-income, and who haven't worked or haven't earned enough work credits to qualify for Social Security Disability Income. Legitimate SSDI and SSI claims are often denied. It can be helpful to retain an experienced Chicago Social Security attorney to represent you through these claims.

Separate Governmental Programs Administered by the SSA

In common parlance, people may not distinguish between SSI and SSDI. They are both overseen by the Social Security Administration (SSA), and whether you are medically eligible for either of these programs is determined in similar ways. However, they are separate programs, and you may qualify for one but not the other. The state of Illinois works with SSA to help with the claims process.

Supplemental Security Income

SSI is a need-based governmental program that is funded by general fund taxes. It may be available based solely on your financial need, and your work history will not factor into whether you get this kind of help. Your income must be very low and you must have either less than $2000 in assets as an individual or less than $3000 if you're a couple. Sometimes, if you qualify for SSI, you also qualify for food stamps. The amount you receive depends on where you live and how much regular monthly income you have. You may be able to receive Medicaid. However, you don't automatically qualify for Medicaid if you're approved for SSI in Illinois. You have to meet an income and asset requirement that your income be at or below poverty level, if you are blind or disabled based on the SSA definition of disability. If you earn more than this, you may still be eligible for Medicaid through a different program in Illinois.

Social Security Disability Income

SSDI is very different from SSI because it's funded through payroll taxes. Therefore, how much you've worked enters into the equation. When you work, you make FICA Social Security tax contributions to the trust fund out of which SSDI claims are paid. In order to get SSDI, you must have a specific number of work credits and you must be under age 65.

Your spouse and children who are dependents can be eligible for auxiliary benefits under SSDI. Only you, as an adult over 18-years-old, can receive SSDI disability benefits. You need to wait five months for benefits. In other words, the Social Security Administration won't pay you benefits for the first five months after you first become disabled. After that, the amount of monthly benefits hinges on your earnings over time.

SSDI v. SSI

Usually, it's easier to get approved for SSDI than for SSI. Often those with SSDI have a higher income and are insured, so they are more likely to regularly see a doctor for their medical issues. Your treatment history is relevant to your SSDI or SSI claim; it is much harder to get benefits if you do not see a doctor for medical care for your disabling injuries or condition. Unfortunately, administrative law judges are also more likely to find those SSDI applicants with a long work history more credible than an SSI applicant who hasn't worked much. There's a certain skepticism towards an applicant for benefits who doesn't have significant work history, and a skilled disability benefits lawyer can help you overcome that issue in an SSI claim.

Consult an Experienced Social Security Attorney in Chicago

At Katz, Friedman, Eagle, Eisenstein, Johnson & Bareck, our Social Security lawyers may be able to help you with your initial application for SSDI or SSI benefits in Chicago. We can guide you through the process and take steps on your behalf should your application be denied. Our firm has helped those disabled in Aurora, Springfield, Champaign, Rockford, and Quincy, as well as other communities in Cook, Winnebago, Sangamon, Kane, Champaign, and Adams Counties. We look at your disability case carefully to make sure we address all areas of potential relief, such as workers' compensation or personal injury. We can be reached at 312-263-6330 or toll free at 800-444-1525, or via our online form.