The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is a lifeline for American workers who find themselves unable to work due to an injury or illness that is expected to last more than a year or result in death. Established in 1956, SSDI is funded through payroll taxes, also known as the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA).
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs-based program that provides a monthly benefit for eligible individuals. Enacted in 1974, the program replaced federal-state adult assistance programs in order to standardize eligibility requirements and benefit levels. It is difficult to qualify for this program, since SSI has strict eligibility criteria.
Eligible individuals must have less than $718 in monthly unearned income and be:
- Age 65 or older;
- Blind; or
The SSI program is funded through general revenue taxes, not FICA payroll taxes that fund the Social Security Trust Funds. It is intended to provide income for a person’s basic needs of food, shelter and clothing. More than 7 million Americans receive Supplemental Security Income benefits.
Social Security disability, including SSI, may be awarded on a temporary or permanent basis, depending on the nature of the disability. Some very severe conditions that the Social Security Administration calls “Compassionate Allowances” result in awards of benefits very quickly. But the system for claiming disability benefits can seem overly bureaucratic and difficult to navigate. The application process can take months or, in some cases, years. Appeals may be needed if a claim is denied, and claimants appealing unfavorable decisions may need to present their case at a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
The Social Security disability programs play a critical role in preventing significant societal costs that can result when persons are improperly denied benefits such as home foreclosures and evictions, homelessness, family dissolutions or bankruptcies. Delaying benefits to disabled individuals may lead to further human suffering and could place additional strains on Medicaid or state- and federal assistance programs.
NOSSCR is committed to protecting and strengthening the Social Security disability programs to ensure that all persons who find themselves in need of this benefit can receive the help they have earned.