While we write frequently about the Social Security disability program on this blog, we do not write as frequently about its sister program, Supplemental Security Income. SSI, as the program is usually abbreviated, is different in nature from the Social Security disability program.
While SSDI is a social insurance program, the benefits of which are available to those who have sufficiently paid into the system, SSI is a welfare program for those who are disabled but who have not built up enough work history to collect Social Security disability benefits. SSI is paid by general tax revenues rather than a specific fund.
In particular, SSI provides benefits to disabled adults and children with limited income and financial resources, as well as elderly individuals who are not disabled but who meet certain financial limits.
As for similarities, like SSDI, SSI has a work incentive program which provides a support network to beneficiaries looking to return to work. Also like the SSDI program, the SSI program utilizes a definition of disability which includes the same basic components: the inability to perform substantial gainful activity and the expectation that the condition will result in death or to will last at least one year. SSI applicants, like SSDI applicants, are able to be approved for conditions on the Compassionate Allowances list, which expedites the approval process.
SSI decisions can be subjected to a review process, and one can choose to be represented in applying for SSI. Seeking the help of an experienced advocate can help not only in putting together a thorough application, but also in navigating the process of review if that becomes necessary.
Source: Social Security Administration, "Supplemental Security Income (SSDI) Benefits," Accessed July 18, 2014
Social Security Administration, "Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Eligibility Requirements," Accessed July 18, 2014