This question shows that claimants are not quite sure about what type of Social Security Administration disability benefit they are receiving, what the disability criteria is for each program and why they were awarded one disability benefit by the SSA versus the other.
Before answering the question it will help to explain the disability process and how the Social Security Administration makes their disability determination.
Steps to determine what disability benefit a claimant should receive
The Social Security Administration first receives the claimant’s disability applications at the Social Security Administration field offices either by telephone, online or in person. Each field office is responsible for checking and verifying the claimant’s nonmedical requirements which includes the claimants age, marital status, employment history and whether or not they have enough work credits to be considered “insured” for Social Security Disability Insurance.
If for instance, the Social Security Administration determines the claimant does not have enough work credits for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits they may then determine if their resources or income is low enough for Supplemental Security Income benefits. If the claimant does not meet either of these qualifications their disability application is rejected without ever being sent to the Disability Determination Services office (DDS) for a medical review.
Now for claimants who have sufficient work credits to be considered insured, their Social Security Disability Insurance application is forwarded to the DDS office (“fully funded state agencies responsible for requesting medical evidence and making the initial determination on whether or not a claimant is disabled or blind under the law”).
If the claimant does not have sufficient work credits to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance but their income and resources are below the allowable limit for Supplemental Security Income, their Supplemental Security Income application is also forwarded to the DDS office for a medical review.
At the DDS office the process for determining disability for both Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income are the same.
So what does this mean? It means that if whether you are receiving Supplemental Security income or Social Security Disability Insurance benefits the Social Security Administration is agreeing that you are fully disabled with a severe mental or physical health condition which does not allow you to work for 12 continuous months.
Why did I get SSI instead of SSDI?
The only reason that a claimant would not receive SSDI but would receive Supplemental Security income instead (as a disabled claimant) is because the Social Security Administration had previously determined the claimant was not insured and did not qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance.
Final steps in the Social Security Administration disability process
If the claimant is found disabled by the Disability Determinations Services Office then their application is sent back to the appropriate field office for additional processing. If the applicant has been awarded Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income the SSA office will compute their disability payment amount and begin the payments. If the disability applicant is denied benefits the SSA office will send them a denial letter which states why they were denied and the steps to appeal the denial decision.
So can you switch from SSDI to SSI? Although you can contact the SSA to verify, most likely the SSA already determined you did not qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance.
- Can my resources be too high for SSA disability benefits? (disabilitybenefitshome.com)
- Can I work and get disability benefits? (disabilitybenefitshome.com)
- Steps to get Social Security Administration Disability Benefits (disabilitybenefitshome.com)