A Brief Overview of Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance in California.

If you can’t work for physical or mental reasons in California, you may be able to collect Supplemental Security Income benefits or Social Security Disability Insurance. Still, they both have strict stipulations to qualify.

SSDI benefits are usually based on your previous contributions to Social Security, and SSI eligibility is decided on by the income level you find yourself in.

SSI is usually provided as monthly income if you have a low income or other limited resources. If you are blind, 65 or older, or have a disability that qualifies, you also may receive benefits.

Some other facts pertinent to SSI are:

In 2023, the maximum benefit you could receive for SSI was $914 for individuals and $1,372 if you were a couple, and in 2024, the benefit was increased to $943 for individuals and $1,415 for couples.

In most cases, your work history will not affect your eligibility for SSI, and Social Security Taxes do not fund SSI.

If you receive any Income from other sources, including Social Security retirement funds, this can lower the amount you receive for your SSI benefit.

Also, to qualify for SSI benefits, you cannot own stocks or have significant cash or resources collectively worth more than $2,000 for singles and($3,000 for couples).

On the other hand, SSDI works a lot more like insurance. If you are hurt, disabled, etc., and cannot work due to a medical or proven mental disability, then you might be able to obtain SSDI benefits.

The following applies to SSDI benefits:

  • To be eligible, you must meet specific work-related requirements.
  • Your overall benefit amount will be based on your lifetime average earnings.
  • SSDI uses paycheck deductions, and workers pay for SSDI with their Social Security taxes.
  • SSDI almost always delivers a higher benefit than SSI benefits do.
  • Additionally, SSDI does impose resource limits, so you can own stocks or hold other assets and still receive benefits.

So, both these programs can be of significant financial help if you are disabled, can’t work, or have been hurt. However, the application process can be arduous. If you want the best chance at success, the help and professional guidance of a California Social Security Disability and SSI lawyer will prove invaluable.

Can I Receive Both SSDI and SSI Benefits If I Can Qualify?

The simple answer is that under the right circumstances, you can receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) together. Social Security refers to this as a “concurrent” benefit when you qualify and receive both SSI and SSDI benefits.

As stated in Social Security’s overview on concurrent benefits, there may be drawbacks; for example, if you receive SSDI benefits, this may reduce your SSI payments or remove your eligibility for one of the programs. This is due to differences in the programs’ intent and eligibility criteria.

Both SSDI and SSI provide benefits, but the recipients must meet Social Security’s definition of a disability; which is a physical or mental health condition that’s severe enough to prevent you from working for at least a year.

However, SSDI provides payments to disabled people regardless of their financial situation. SSDI application qualifications are based on how long you worked in a job that paid Social Security taxes. So, your benefit amounts are based on your average lifetime earnings.

Alternatively, SSI is a needs-based program. It does pay benefits to people who are disabled, blind, or at least 65 years old and have limited financial resources, but it is unrelated to your employment history.

So, suppose you feel you may qualify for SSI and SSDI benefits. In that case, you must discuss your work history, disability, and more with your knowledgeable, experienced Social Security disability lawyer to see exactly what’s best for your situation. Your lawyer will ensure the math works in your favor and not against you.

Should I Use a Lawyer to Apply for My SSI or SSDI Benefits or Both?

You must never forget that whether you apply for SSI or SSDI benefits, you are dealing with the government, so nothing is ever easy.

In today’s world, you can apply for SSI online if you are an adult with a disability. However, applications are not available online for people applying for a child under age 18 who’s disabled or a non-disabled senior age 65 or more.

SSDI benefits can be applied online and at any age.

However, you probably realize that applying for either benefit will require significant paperwork, proof of disability, income, and much more. This task is not easy to do by any means and will, at times, frustrate and confuse most of you if you are not well-versed in the process.

Dealing with a qualified San Diego Social Security Disability Benefits law firm will ensure your application is correct and you have applied with all the documents to get you qualified and receive the maximum benefit possible.

You will be declined if you spend hours gathering, presenting, and working on your application and make one simple error, or miss a deadline. Therefore, it’s always wise to consult with a professional SSI or SSDI lawyer not only to help ensure your success but also to maximize your possible SSI or SSDI benefit amount.

How Long May It Take to Process My SSI or SSDI Application?

Depending on your situation and circumstances, the period for processing SSI and SSDI applications varies widely. If done correctly and with all the information needed, the average is 3-6 months from the date of application.

That said, if you make an error or omission in your application, it could take months or even years to get the benefits you need now.

By working with an empathetic, thorough, and detail-oriented Social Security Disability lawyer, you can be sure that your application and needed documentation are correct. They may also have ways to expedite the process.

For example, if you have a severe disability that falls under Social Security’s “Compassionate Allowances” (CAL) classification. Your law team may be able to expedite the review of your SSI/SSDI application.

I Must Apply for SSDI or SSI Benefits, But Need Help; What Should I Do?

First, as stated, even a professional SSI or SSDI lawyer will tell you that the application process for either program is highly complicated. Myriad questions must be answered, and all the proper forms must be filled out correctly. So, it’s always unwise to attempt this process alone.

The Roeschke Law Firm’s Social Security lawyers have a long-standing history of providing successful and informed representation for hundreds of San Diego clients and helping them obtain the benefits they deserve.

Call them at (800) 975-1866 and obtain a free consultation. SSI and SSDI are there for your use if you need them. The Roeschke Law Firm will work tirelessly to help you get what you rightfully deserve.