How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

Do People with Mental Disorders File for SSI instead of SSD?

There are two disability programs operated by the federal government under the auspices of the social security administration.

The first is SSD, or Social Security Disability. The benefits paid to an individual approved for Social Security Disability benefits are based on FICA taxes that have been paid into the system via employment or self-employment contributions (meaning that this is a benefit for which a person must become "insured"). SSD provides a monthly monetary disability benefit as well as medicare benefits. Also, individuals who are awarded SSD benefits will usually be owed a substantial amount in back pay benefits.

SSI, or supplemental security income, is a need-based program that is designed to provide benefits to individuals who are either A) not insured for Social Security Disability or B) insured for SSD, but only eligible for a relatively low benefit amount. Individuals who are approved for SSI disability do not receive medicare, but, instead, receive medicaid.

Now, the question on which this post is based: Are individuals with mental problems (such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorder, and depression) more likely to file for SSI instead of SSD?

Well, I should make one thing clear first. Claimants who file for disability benefits do not have a choice as to which program they can file under. I say that because, although it should seem obvious, a fair number of people do not understand that the program you can file under is a determination that is made by social security (more specifically, it is made by the claims rep at the social security office who takes the claimant's application).

Are mental cases more likely to be SSI versus SSD? As a disability examiner (for those who may not be aware, I am a former disability claims examiner for the social security administration), I did not keep track of this type of information; in other words, I did not associate which types of claims (e.g. back pain, bipolar, fibromyalgia) tended to be SSI or SSD. However, I would not be surprised if more claims are filed under SSI than SSD.

Here's my reasoning on this: the nature of certain mental conditions makes it very difficult for many individuals to sustain employment. Bipolar disorder, with it alternating phases, is a very good example. It is not unusual for individuals who have bipolar to go through routine cycles of employment and unemployment, chiefly as a result of their polar cycling.

This, of course, can make it very difficult to both achieve and sustain insured status for Social Security Disability benefits, making it likely that an application that has been filed for disability will be filed under SSI, or taken as a concurrent claim (a concurrent claim is one that has been taken in both the SSD and SSI programs, typically because a claimant's SSD benefit by itself would be very low).

Essential Questions

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Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

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Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

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The listings, list of disabling impairments

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Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

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These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

Social Security Disability attorneys and representatives
What is the status of your Social Security Disability or SSI case
Rules and requirements to apply for disability
Will I qualify for disability?
Apply for disability for any medical condition
Steps and Tips for requesting a disability hearing
If your disability claim is approved or denied
Social Security Award letter for SSD, SSI
Temporary Social Security Disability SSI
Social Security Disability SSI reviews
How social security evaluates attention deficit
Filing for disability with Post polio syndrome
Tips for Getting Disability Approved
How far back Social Security will pay SSDI or SSI
SSI award notices are received by approved claimants
Winning and getting disability with a mental condition
Getting disability for rheumatoid arthritis
Can you work if you get Disability?
Who qualifies for SSI and how
How to file for disability and where to apply
Conditions that may qualify as disability
Denied on a disability application
Answering questions at a Social Security Disability hearing

For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.