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Different types of financial benefits

Karns & Kerrison

When someone is in need of financial assistance from the government, it can be confusing to understand which type of help should be sought. In Rhode Island, two commonly confused programs include the Supplemental Security Income program and the Social Security Disability Insurance Program. While the names of these two types are similar, the requirements and benefits are very different.

According to the Social Security Administration’s website, the SSI is funded from tax revenues from the general public and is disbursed in cash. Recipients must be financially limited and children are included, as well as those who are blind, aged or disabled in any way. Under this program, Medicaid can be offered to recipients as well as additional supplemental support from the state.

In contrast, the SSDI program is based on a worker’s Social Security contributions and comes from a disability trust fund. Lifetime earnings are used to calculate the amount disbursed to workers once they become blind or disabled in another way. If the individual has limited or no work history, the earnings of a spouse or parents may be used to calculate SSDI disbursements. Medicare is often also offered to those enrolled in SSDI.

While these two programs are different, there are instances when a person will qualify for both types of benefits. As of 2013, the Social Security Administration reported that Rhode Island was currently giving SSDI benefits to over 219,000 citizens. The number receiving SSI was much smaller, reaching just over 32,630 residents. The combined amount offered to the state’s residents each month of that year surpassed $264 million.


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