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Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federally funded program that provides financial support to adults with disabilities and to families of children with disabilities to help them cover the extra costs associated with their disability. The SSI program is for individuals and families with limited incomes and resources.

Social Security Disability Insurance Program (SSDI) Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are available to individuals

  • who are currently disabled
  • have previously worked and paid into the Social Security System, or whose retired or disabled spouse or parent has a record of paying into the Social Security System.

SSDI is based on a worker’s lifetime average earnings covered by Social Security. What a person has paid in to the policy through Social Security taxes is what the policy will pay them when disabled. An adult who has worked for six quarters prior to the age of 24 may become SSDI eligible. Benefits may be paid to a child of an eligible adult if the child is unmarried and

  • is under age 18; or
  • is 18-19 years old and a full-time student (no higher than grade 12); or
  • is 18 or older and has a disability that started before age 22 (see CDB below)

Social Security Disabled Adult Child Program (Child Disability Beneficiary (CDB)) This SSDI program pays benefits to adults who have a disability that began before they became 22 years old. This SSDI benefit is called a “child’s” benefit because it is paid on the basis of a parent’s Social Security earnings record. For a disabled adult to become entitled to this “child” benefit, one of his or her parents:

  • Must be receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits; or
  • Must have died and have worked long enough under Social Security.

The disability decision is based on the disability rules for adults. SSDI disabled adult "child" benefits continue as long as the individual remains disabled.  Your child does not need to have worked to get these benefits.

Ticket to Work Program
The Ticket to Work program is a program from the Social Security Administration for those who receive SSDI or SSI due to a disability, providing beneficiaries with more choices for receiving employment services. Under the Ticket to Work program the Social Security Administration (SSA) gives tickets to eligible beneficiaries who may assign those tickets to an Employment Network (EN) of their choice to obtain employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, or other support services necessary to achieve a vocational (work) goal. To determine the EN in your region contact Maximus at 1-866-968-7842 (1-866-YOURTICKET) or 1-866-833-2967 TTY (1-866-TDD 2 WORK) or at their website: Ticket to Work Overview.  ENs, if they accept the ticket, will coordinate and provide appropriate services to help the beneficiary find and maintain employment.  One can receive extended health care coverage, protection from Continuing Medical Reviews while "Ticket" is in use, more money, and reinstatement of benefits if you can no longer work. Find more information about the Ticket to Work program refer to  www.yourtickettowork.com or www.ssa.gov/work. You may also contact your local OVR District office, or call 1-800-257-4232.

Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) A Plan to Achieve Self-Support (Section 2177.1) allows a disabled person to set aside income or resources for a work goal such as education, vocational training, or starting a business. Your child must be 15 years of age or older to establish a PASS. A PASS does not affect an SGA (Substantial Gainful Activity) decision. The Social Security Administration will help evaluate your PASS and determine acceptability. They will also help put your plan in writing.


See Also

The SSA created a new website for the use of benefit eligibility screening tool. This SSA BEST customized Connection screens citizens for 17 different Social Security programs and provide them with a list of benefits they may be eligible to receive. You can view their website at www.govbenefits.gov.

For a very detailed explanation of SSDI versus SSI, and the impact of working on Social Security benefits, please refer to the 2013 RED BOOK: A Summary Guide to Employment Supports for Individuals with Disabilities under the Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income Programs.

The Institute for Community Inclusion has a very easy to understand guide entitled, Going to Work: A Guide to Social Security Benefits and Employment for Young People with Disabilities 2009 edition. This guide covers SSI, SSDI, the Ticket to Work Program, PASS, and while it is geared for Massachusetts residents, it is quite useful for all audiences.