Which Benefits Apply to You?

SSI vs. SSDI in Pennsylvania

Understanding Your Right to SSI/SSDI Benefits

If you or someone you love is disabled, you could be entitled to federal disability benefits. Maybe you are new to this process or have already familiarized yourself with the types of benefits available, but it can still be confusing to try to understand how Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) work and which will apply to you.

Let's look at the differences between SSDI and SSI, whether you qualify, and how these federal benefit programs may affect you.

If you have any questions about Social Security Disability, our team at Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC is standing by to offer our experienced insight. Our attorneys have served the good people of Pennsylvania for nearly 100 years and can help you with any aspect of your application or appeal. Call (888) 498-3023 today for your free, private consultation.

Federal Disability Benefits Through SSI & SSDI

SSI and SSDI are both managed and controlled by the Social Security Administration (SSA):

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pays benefits to people who are “insured” because they’ve paid Social Security taxes and have worked long enough and recently enough to qualify.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is provided to disabled persons based on financial need, without the requirement of an employment history.

Both programs require that the applicant meet the SSA’s disability qualifications. The applicant must have a severe medical condition that is expected to last at least 12 months or result in his or her death. The applicant must also be unable to work and earn a living.

The following are examples of disabilities that may qualify an applicant for SSDI benefits or SSI:

  • Respiratory disorders like COPD, asthma, or cystic fibrosis.
  • Immune disorders like arthritis, HIV, lupus, or multiple sclerosis.
  • Neurological diseases like epilepsy or cerebral palsy.
  • Mental disorders like anxiety disorders, autism, PTSD, or bipolar disorder.
  • Cancer, diabetes, and other severe, life-threatening medical conditions.

Do I Qualify for SSI or SSDI?

If you want to find out whether you should apply for SSDI or SSI, Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC can help. As seasoned Pennsylvania Social Security Disability attorneys, we can talk to you about your condition and your work history to get an initial idea of which program you may qualify for. We can work with you through the entire application process to pursue the benefits you need.

You may qualify for Supplemental Security Income if:

  • You are disabled, blind, or 65 years of age or older
  • You have limited income and financial resources

You may qualify for Supplemental Security Disability Insurance benefits if:

  • You are disabled
  • You have enough work credits based on your age.

As you can see, there is an option for you whether you have or haven’t worked. You will need to meet the SSA’s definition of disabled, however, and this will require medical documentation and evidence. If you’re applying for SSDI benefits, you’ll also need to provide proof of your work credits: that you’ve worked long enough and recently enough to be “insured.” Gathering all the necessary information and correctly filing your application can be extremely challenging, particularly when you’re already dealing with a serious medical condition. Our lawyers can handle everything, so you don’t have to.

Ready to get started? Give us a call at (888) 498-3023.


What’s the Difference Between SSDI and SSI?

SSDI is a type of “insurance” for people who pay Social Security taxes. SSI is based on the financial needs of a person who is disabled. While SSDI eligibility is dependent on a person’s employment history, SSI is not.

Do I Need to Be Employed to Receive SSDI?

Yes, to an extent. A person bust have worked for a specific amount of time before qualifying for SSDI benefits. In addition to a specific employment history, someone must meet the Social Security Administration’s disability qualifications.

Do I Need to Be Employed to Qualify for SSI?

No, a person does not need to have an employment history to qualify for SSI. Instead, they must be disabled or of a certain age to receive SSI benefits. In some instances, a person can receive SSI if they have limited or low finances. A person’s disability status is determined by guidelines described by the Social Security Administration.

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