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2 min read

I’m Confused: Social Security vs. Survivor Benefits vs. Disability vs. SSI

I’m Confused: Social Security vs. Survivor Benefits vs. Disability vs. SSI

Which Social Security benefit is appropriate for your situation?  You’ve heard of Social Security. You’ve heard of Disability. You’ve heard of Social Security Disability. You’ve heard of Supplemental Security Income. Your head is spinning. Are they different words for the same concept? Are they all different? Do you apply? Is the system doomed?

The last question is better left to politicians and fortune-tellers, but in this entry the attorneys at the Rocky Mountain Disability Law Group will seek to explain some of the basic benefits or programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). In addition to the information provided here, the agency’s website provides a number of explanatory and self-help resources that you may find useful.

Social Security Retirement

In everyday speech, this is what people usually refer to as “Social Security.” Social Security Retirement is income paid to individuals who have worked a sufficient number of quarters in their life to qualify and are at least 62 years old. In certain circumstances, the retiree’s spouse may also be entitled to benefits.

Social Security Survivor Benefits

These are financial benefits paid to the child, widower, or parent of a deceased qualifying worker. The qualifications for a child, widower, and parent vary. For example, a child under 18 will qualify automatically (assuming their parent was a qualified worker) but a parent of a deceased worker will only qualify if they are at least 62 years old and were dependent on the deceased worker.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Benefits

A disabled worker who meets the eligibility requirements and had been working in “covered employment” prior to their disability is entitled to receive an enumerated sum of benefits. This is generally referred to as “disability” or “Social Security Disability” in ordinary conversation. Under Social Security laws, an individual is deemed disabled if they are either unable to work for one year or more or their condition is expected to end in death. Retroactive benefits may be available.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits

This is not technically “Social Security,” but it is closely related and administered by the same agency. Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) is an income supplement whose goal is to assist disabled, elderly, and blind individuals with little to no income in meeting their fundamental daily needs like food, shelter, and clothing. SSI may be a good alternative for those who aren’t “qualified workers” under the social security rules.

Social Security benefits are funded through payroll taxes, which are placed in trust for qualifying beneficiaries. This is why Social Security benefits are typically contingent upon a worker having worked a specified number of quarters before they qualify. If you may be entitled to benefits, it is important to apply as early as possible, as the SSA is notorious for denying first-round claims.

Contact an Attorney for Help in the Application Process

If you or a loved one wants to apply for benefits offered by the Social Security Administration, it is in your best interests to first consult with a legal professional with experience in the field. Contact the experienced social security disability attorneys at the Whitcomb, Selinsky PC firm or the Rocky Mountain Disability Law Group today. We can answer any questions you may have and help you through the application process. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help ensure you receive the benefits you are entitled to. Please call (303) 534-1958 or complete a contact form on our website.