You’ve heard that there are two types of disability benefits that you can get through the Social Security Administration: Social Security Disability benefits (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

How do you know which one you’re supposed to file for once you become disabled? Well, the short answer to that question is, “You aren’t expected to know the difference.”

While SSD and SSI are two entirely different programs with very different rules for eligibility, the process of filing for benefits under either program is exactly the same when you have a disability:

  • Contact Social Security and make an appointment to file your claim.
  • Complete one set of forms regarding your disabling conditions, your medical history, your education and your work history.
  • Wait on a decision regarding whether or not you meet the criteria to be considered “disabled” under SSA’s rules.
  • If your claim is denied, as they often are, file an appeal.

It’s the Social Security claims representative’s job to go through a series of screening questions to see if you are potentially qualified for SSI in addition to SSD. SSI is a needs-based system, like food stamps, which requires you to meet certain financial requirements (on top of being disabled) for eligibility.

Generally speaking, you’ll only pass the screening if you have very limited income and resources at the time that you file. Even then, you may not qualify financially for the program once the agency goes through the pre-effectuation review conference after your disability is confirmed.

The process of applying for (and obtaining) disability benefits through Social Security can be confusing and difficult. If you need help getting your disability claim approved, reach out to an advocate today.

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