The SSI Program is a general public assistance measure providing an additional resource to the aged, blind, and disabled to assure that their income does not fall below the poverty line. 20 C.F.R. § 416.110. Eligibility for SSI is based upon proof of indigence and disability. 42 U.S.C. §§ 1382(a), 1382c(a)(3)(A)-(C).
SSI-benefits are authorized by Title XVI of the Act and are funded by general tax revenues. That’s why they are often referred to as Title XVI benefits.
A claimant applying for SSI cannot receive payment for any period of disability predating the month in which you applied for benefits, no matter how long you have actually been disabled.20 C.F.R. § 416.335. Benefits are payable starting the month following your application date. For example, if you apply for SSI benefits on January 19, 2011, alleging a disability that began on February 1, 2010, you can only receive benefits for February 1, 2011 onward. You cannot claim get benefits back to February 1, 2010.
Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits are authorized by Title II of the Act and are funded by Social Security taxes. The disability insurance program provides income to individuals who are forced into involuntary, premature retirement, provided they are both insured and disabled, regardless of indigence.
A claimant for disability insurance can collect benefits for up to twelve months of disability prior to the filing of an application. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.131, 404.315. Using the above example, if you are insured for SSDI, even if you applied on January 19, 2011, you could obtain disability benefits back to February 1, 2010, since that is when the disability began.
For purposes of Title II social security disability benefits, your date last insured (DLI) is important. Your disability must have started before your DLI in order to meet the insured requirement. It doesn’t matter when you apply as long as you can prove that your disability began prior to the DLI.
While SSI and SSDI are separate and distinct programs, applicants seeking benefits under either statutory provision must prove “disability” within the meaning of the Act, which defines disability in virtually identical language for both programs. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d), 1382c(a)(3), 1382c(a)(3)(G); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1505(a), 416.905(a).
The law and regulations governing the determination of disability are the same for both disability insurance benefits and SSI. See Greenspan v. Skalala, 38 F.3d 232, 236 (5th Cir.1994), cert. denied, 514 U.S. 1120, 115 S.Ct. 1984, 131 L.Ed.2d 871 (1995).
Under both programs, disability is defined as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A).
A person can apply for both SSDI and SSI based on the same disability. However, because SSI benefits are dependent on your income and assets, your SSDI payments will offset your SSI benefits. In many cases, SSI payments will be offset to $0.