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What Is the Difference Between Social Security Benefits and Supplemental Security Income?

In the Social Security benefits world, the language can get confusing, to say the least. The convoluted terminology and complex processes can be overwhelming and a source of great anxiety for those trying to access benefits of which they are in desperate need. We are here to help. Here we will take a turn at untangling some of the language by discussing the differences between Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Income.

What is the Difference Between Social Security Benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Yes, there are some similarities between Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both programs are administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and both programs pay out monthly benefits to recipients. For those benefit applicants aged 18 or older, the medical standards set for disability are generally the same. This standard is based on the severity of your disability. Some people may be eligible to receive both SSI and Social Security benefits. The application is the same for both programs.

Despite these similarities, these two benefit programs are very different in many important ways. The SSI program is meant to provide support to those individuals who are disabled, blind, or age 65 or older and have limited income and resources. On the other hand, Social Security benefits may be paid out should you be “insured.” “Insured,” in this instance, refers to working long enough and paying Social Security taxes long enough to qualify for benefits. SSI benefits, alternatively, are not based on your prior work history.

Social Security benefits and SSI benefits are also funded differently. SSI benefits are funded by the U.S. treasury from things like income tax and corporate taxes. Social Security is funded by taxes collected under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) or the Self-Employment Contributions Act (SECA). Taxes that fund Social Security benefits do not fund the SSI program.

SSI benefits are paid out on the first of each month. A critical part of the program is that these benefits are intended to help those with limited income and resources. In the majority of states, those who receive SSI benefits can also get medical assistance through Medicaid. Medicaid will help cover the costs of doctor visits, medical bills, prescription drug coverage, and other health care costs. Additionally, SSI recipients can often get food assistance. In fact, some states have SSI applications that also serve as an application for food assistance.

If you are considering applying for SSI benefits, however, you must be aware of some of the program’s basic requirements. You must either be a U.S. citizen, national, or have another qualifying immigrant status. You must live in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands. You must also not be absent from the U.S. for a full calendar month or 30 or more consecutive days.

Los Angeles Social Security Disability Attorney

Do you need assistance deciphering the ins and outs of the complex Social Security benefits world? Disability Advocates is here for you. Contact us today.