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Why is the SSA telling me I can only get SSI benefits?

If you are injured or sick and unable to work for 12 continuous months you could be entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. What many claimants do not know, however, is that getting SSDI benefits is not as simple as filling out an SSDI application form. In fact, many claimants who apply for SSDI benefits will not qualify, they will have their SSDI application denied, and they may have to apply for SSI benefits instead.

Recently on our SSDI forum a user asked, “I talked to the SSA and they are telling me I do not qualify for SSDI Benefits. The SSA said I could only get SSI benefits. What does this mean for my disability case?”

Denied SSDI benefits


To qualify for SSDI benefits or SSI benefits for disability a claimant will have to be disabled with a severe health condition which does not allow them to work for at least 12 continuous months or which is expected to result in the claimant’s death. Regardless of whether you apply for SSDI or SSI benefits you will have to meet this requirement. So assuming you meet the disability requirement, if you have been denied SSDI benefits there is another reason which has nothing to do with the severity of your health condition.

Qualifying for SSDI benefits


There are several reasons you can be denied SSDI benefits. For instance, SSDI benefits can be denied if you are working when you apply and you are making too much money. For instance, if you are able to work and earn $1070 per month as anon-blind individual in 2014 the SSA will consider you automatically NOT disabled.

Another reason you may have been denied Social Security Disability Insurance is because the SSA has determined that you do not have enough work credits to be insured for SSDI. The number of work credits you will need to be insured for SSDI varies based on your age when you became disabled.

For instance, if you are 23 years or younger when you become disabled you will have to have earned 6 work credits in the 3 year period right before you became disabled. Older claimants will need more work credits to qualify for SSDI.

If you were denied for any of the reasons outlined above your only option may be to apply for SSI benefits.

Difference between SSI benefits and SSDI benefits


SSI benefits are benefits offered to the blind, aged, and disabled. SSI benefits are also only offered to claimants who have very limited income and resources. Even if you are severely disabled, if your income and resource level is too high, you will not qualify for SSI benefits.

Claimants will not have to work and generate work credits to qualify for SSI benefits, but they can generally expect a lower payout. In 2014, individuals can receive $721 per month in SSI benefits. Couples can receive $1082 per month. Some states will offer a supplemental payment so if you live in one of those states you may receive a bit more.

Bottom Line:


If you lack work credits you will have to return to work and generate more credits to qualify for SSDI benefits, and if you are working too much you will be denied both SSI and SSDI benefits.
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