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How are disability benefits different from SSI benefits?

Many of our Los Angeles readers have probably seen previous posts here that describe how a person who suffers from a disability may be eligible for Social Security Disability insurance benefits, but may also be eligible for Supplemental Security Income. The two programs sound similar, but are actually quite different. The reason they are oftentimes confused for one another is that both programs are administered by the Social Security Administration.

The fact is that these two programs are quite different. As anyone who has ever earned a paycheck knows, Social Security plays a large role in the deductions a Los Angeles resident will see from that paycheck. While most people know that those payroll deductions go toward funding retirement benefits that are administered by the SSA, Social Security Disability is also funded by workers throughout America.

SSD benefits will be there for workers who have become disabled -- either by way of illness or injury -- as long as those workers have the qualifying amount of work credits based on their employment history. Supplemental Security Income benefits, on the other hand, are not dependent on a person's work history. That is how disabled children can qualify for SSI benefits.

SSI benefits are funded by general tax revenue -- not specific deductions from the payroll of workers. The amount of SSD benefits that a person receives is dependent on that person's income and work history; that isn't the case for SSI benefits, which are determined based on a person's resources -- or lack thereof. These two programs are completely different in many ways, which is why Los Angeles residents who believe they need to apply for financial assistance in the form of one or the other of these two programs will likely need to get more information about which program they qualify for.

Source: Grand Forks Herald, "SOCIAL SECURITY Q&A: The difference between SSI and Social Security," Howard Kossover, April 30, 2016

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