Mark Davis From Martin Law, The Law Firm For Injured Workers Joins Slutsky Elder Law As A Guest Contributor.

If you’ve become disabled and need to file for disability, the application process can be complicated. The first step is to determine the most critical questions that need to be answered before you apply:

  • Which program will I be eligible for?
  • What programs are available to me?
  • What are the differences between the plans?
  • Which program is better?
  • Which program should I use?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

To receive Social Security Disability Insurance, both you and your employer need to pay into it through The Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), a type of payroll tax. SSDI recipients are eligible for the Medicare program (even if they are younger than 65).

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Eligibility looks to the disabled person’s resources and assets to determine eligibility. Assets, income, or resources that exceed Social Security’s set limits will preclude the ability for the SSI program. SSI recipients will be eligible for Medicaid.

SSDI is often referred to as a program that requires a work history and SSI referred to as a needs-based program. This answer, though somewhat accurate, is also technically incomplete and vague. You can view SSDI as a general insurance policy. After you stop paying premiums, your insurance coverage will lapse. Typically, your SSDI coverage will expire approximately five years after you’re done working. This is referred to as your Date Last Insured (DLI). To receive SSDI benefits, Social Security must find you disabled on or before your DLI.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

SSI does not require FICA contributions. A person’s eligibility is determined based on income, resources, or assets available to them and these resources can preclude eligibility for SSI. In some cases, eligibility could only be decreased. If a person gets SSI benefits and they receive food and shelter at no cost to them, the amount of monthly SSI benefits could be reduced. Eligibility for SSI is determined at a Pre-Effectuation Review Conference (PERC appointment). After a person is found eligible for SSI benefits, Social Security will schedule a PERC appointment to ascertain final eligibility as well as eligible amounts.

Which program should you apply for if you determine you need to apply for disability? Should you apply for both programs? How do you know which one is better to use?

If you are eligible, but you have a short work history, low earnings, part-time earnings, or sporadic earnings, then you should apply for both SSI and SSDI to supplement a potentially low monthly payment. If your SSDI monthly amount makes you ineligible for SSI, then you would likely apply only for SSDI. Even some young adults who lack a work history could be eligible for SSDI benefits if disabled before age 22 and they meet specific additional requirements. There is no single answer to address every possible circumstance.

Every person’s situation is different. If you have questions and want to determine what program you should apply for, you can consult with the Social Security Administration or a social security disability attorney to address your particular circumstances.

Contact Andrew Yang, a Social Security Disability Law Attorney from Martin Law, The Law Firm for Injured Workers at (215) 587-8400 to arrange a FREE consultation if you are considering applying for SSD benefits, at any time after you have applied for SSD, or if you have already have received a notice of denial.

For more information on our Guest Blogger, Mark Davis from Martin Law, The Law Firm for Injured Workers, visit

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