Many may think that Supplemental Social Security Income and Social Security Disability benefits are one and the same. However, they are two separate Social Security programs with differing purposes and qualifying criteria.
Supplemental Social Security Income, also called SSI, is a benefit for very low-income families and the elderly population. Referred to as Title XVI benefits, the funds for this program are derived from general tax funds rather than money that an individual has paid into Social Security over the years. Its purpose is to provide income for the very basic of needs such as food, clothing and shelter. While there is no work requirement qualifier, this program does have strict guidelines on the ownership of assets. The value of owned assets will be taken into careful consideration throughout the qualifying process. All except eight states within the United States provide funding for SSI.
Social Security Disability, or SSD, is also referred to as Title II benefits. These benefits maintain several strict qualifying factors. A person must have a demonstrated work history through which he or she paid into the system in order to have enough credits to receive SSD. In addition, you must have a medically determinable disability which will prevent you from performing substantial gainful employment for a period of at least one year, or which is expected to result in death. These conditions must be proven with medical documentation and usually the opinion of one or more qualified medical personnel.
Both programs require U.S. Citizenship. An experienced Social Security attorney will be able to assist in determining whether a person qualifies for one or both programs. In addition, he or she can represent a claimant in an appeal hearing should an initial application be denied.