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[IWS] CRS: PRIMER ON DISABILITY BENEFITS: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) (11 June 2013]

IWS Documented News Service

_______________________________

Institute for Workplace Studies----------------- Professor Samuel B. Bacharach

School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies

Cornell University

16 East 34th Street, 4th floor---------------------- Stuart Basefsky

New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau

________________________________________________________________________

 

Congressional Research Service (CRS)

 

Primer on Disability Benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Umar Moulta-Ali, Analyst in Disability Policy

June 11, 2013

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL32279.pdf

[full-text, 12 pages]

 

Summary

In general, the goal of disability insurance is to replace a portion of a worker’s income should

illness or disability prevent him or her from working. Individuals may receive disability benefits

from either federal or state governments, or from private insurers. This report presents

information on two components of federal disability benefits, those provided through the Social

Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. The

SSDI program is an insurance program that provides benefits to individuals who have paid into

the system and meet certain minimum work requirements. In contrast, the SSI program is a

means-tested program that does not have work or contribution requirements, but restricts benefits

to those who meet asset and resource limitations.

 

The SSDI program was enacted in 1956 and provides benefits to insured disabled workers under

the full retirement age (and to their spouses, surviving disabled spouses, and children) in amounts

related to the disabled worker’s former earnings in covered employment. The SSI program, which

went into effect in 1974, is a needs-based program that provides a flat cash benefit assuring a

minimum cash income to aged, blind, and disabled individuals who have very limited income and

assets.

 

To receive disability benefits under either program, individuals must meet strict medical

requirements. For both SSDI and SSI disability benefits, “disability” is defined as the inability to

engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of a medically determinable physical or

mental impairment expected to result in death or last at least 12 months. Generally, the worker

must be unable to do any kind of work that exists in the national economy, taking into account

age, education, and work experience.

 

Both programs are administered through the Social Security Administration (SSA) and therefore

have similar application and disability determination processes. Although SSDI and SSI are

federal programs, both federal and state offices are used to determine eligibility for disability

benefits. SSA determines whether someone is disabled according to a five-step process, called the

sequential evaluation process, where SSA is required to look at all of the pertinent facts of a

particular case. Current work activity, severity of impairment, and vocational factors are assessed

in that order. An applicant may be denied benefits at any step in the sequential process even if the

applicant may meet a later criterion.

 

The SSDI program is primarily funded through Social Security payroll tax revenue, portions of

which are credited to a Disability Insurance (DI) trust fund. In contrast, the SSI program is funded

through appropriations from general revenues.

 

 

Contents

Social Security Disability Insurance ................................................................................................ 1

Supplemental Security Income ........................................................................................................ 1

Type of Benefits and Average Benefit Levels .................................................................................. 2

SSDI .......................................................................................................................................... 2

SSI ............................................................................................................................................. 2

Eligibility Requirements .................................................................................................................. 3

Definition of Disability .............................................................................................................. 3

SSDI .......................................................................................................................................... 3

SSI ............................................................................................................................................. 5

Disability Determination Process .................................................................................................... 6

Program Financing Information ....................................................................................................... 7

SSDI .......................................................................................................................................... 8

SSI ............................................................................................................................................. 8

 

Tables

Table 1. Reasons for SSDI Worker Benefit Termination, 2011 ....................................................... 4

 

Contacts

Author Contact Information............................................................................................................. 9

Acknowledgments ........................................................................................................................... 9

 

 

________________________________________________________________________

This information is provided to subscribers, friends, faculty, students and alumni of the School of Industrial & Labor Relations (ILR). It is a service of the Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) in New York City. Stuart Basefsky is responsible for the selection of the contents which is intended to keep researchers, companies, workers, and governments aware of the latest information related to ILR disciplines as it becomes available for the purposes of research, understanding and debate. The content does not reflect the opinions or positions of Cornell University, the School of Industrial & Labor Relations, or that of Mr. Basefsky and should not be construed as such. The service is unique in that it provides the original source documentation, via links, behind the news and research of the day. Use of the information provided is unrestricted. However, it is requested that users acknowledge that the information was found via the IWS Documented News Service.

 




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