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The Important Distinctions Between SSI and SSDI Benefits in Colorado

The federal government, through the Social Security Administration, has created several benefit programs to assist low income and older adults with their necessary living expenses. Those experiencing poverty or disability may qualify for Colorado disability benefits through various, food, healthcare, housing, and financial assistance programs. Two major healthcare benefit programs that individuals may be eligible for are Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Income Benefits (SSDI). While there are a few similarities between the two types of benefits, the differences between SSI and SSDI are crucial to understanding how to effectively engage in Colorado special needs planning.

There tend to be misperceptions about these programs because individuals apply for both benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA). Further complicating matters, many individuals apply for both benefits simultaneously. However, there are key differences regarding eligibility based on a person’s earning history, income, resources, and age.

Supplemental Security Income is a needs-based program that provides financial assistance to disabled, low income, blind, or older adults. The program is funded through general tax revenues and not the Social Security trust fund. To qualify for SSI benefits, the individual must be at least 65 years old, blind, or disabled. Additionally, a single individual’s income cannot exceed $771 a month or $1,157 for a couple. Qualifying recipients will receive that amount per month in addition to the $25 Colorado state supplement.

Social Security Disability Income Benefits is a program that provides financial assistance to disabled or blind individuals who have paid into the Social Security trust fund and meet work credit minimums. Unlike SSI, SSDI applicants do not need to meet an income or resource limit. To determine eligibility, the SSA converts a person’s earnings into work credits. Usually, the older the person is, the more work credits they need to qualify for SSDI. The SSA uses a “work test” to determine the number of work credits a person needs to contribute. Additionally, unlike SSI benefits, an SSDI recipient’s spouse and minor children may be eligible to receive partial auxiliary benefits.

Individuals with special needs may qualify for both SSI and SSDI, depending on their work history. However, many individuals who have been living with a disability for a long time may not have the work history required to obtain SSDI benefits. For this reason, most individuals with special needs obtain SSI benefits, and fewer obtain SSDI benefits.

Of course, given the strict income requirements of SSI benefits, it can be difficult to navigate the application process. Many individuals with special needs have family members who want to provide financial assistance, but fear that by doing so they may jeopardize their loved one’s eligibility for SSI benefits. However, there are several ways that family members can provide assistance to loved ones living with a disability without affecting their eligibility. For example, by establishing a Colorado special needs trust, family members can set aside money that can be used for any disability-related expenses.

Have You Been Denied Disability Benefits in Colorado?

If you have a loved one living with a disability, and want to explore your options for safely providing assistance without affecting their eligibility for government benefits, contact the Braverman Law Group. Our legal team has extensive experience helping our clients and their families plan for the future. We provide a full range of Colorado estate planning and special needs planning services across Boulder County. Contact our office at 303-800-1588 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney on our legal team.

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