SSDI vs. SSI
Some people with cystic fibrosis apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which are federal programs that help people who are disabled and cannot work. The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees both programs and determines medical eligibility for the programs. These two programs are distinct. SSDI is available to people who have a sufficient work history and the financial benefit people receive is based on their lifetime earnings. SSI is for those who do not have a sufficient work history or have a low income and assets.
In addition to monthly income, you will receive health insurance coverage as part of your disability benefits. If you are eligible for SSDI, after two years of receiving monthly checks, you will receive Medicare insurance. If you are eligible for SSI, you will receive insurance through your state Medicaid program.
The SSA has an application and review process that determines if an individual qualifies for SSDI or SSI. On the SSA's website you can find the disability criteria for children and adults with CF that the SSA uses to determine if you qualify.
SSA requires you to submit an application that will include medical documentation before you can receive disability benefits. It is important to connect with your care team and social worker to discuss your plans for applying.
After you are approved for benefits, you will receive a disability award letter, which will include, among other information, when you will have your scheduled continued disability review. SSA periodically conducts a review of your benefits to make sure you still qualify for disability benefits. For people with CF this review period is usually every seven years. SSA will ask you questions about your condition and review your medical documentation to determine if your condition has improved. If your condition has not improved, you will continue to receive benefits. Your benefits will only stop if your medical condition has improved and you are able to work regularly.
For More Information
The application process can often be time-consuming and confusing, and working with an experienced attorney may increase the chances of your application being approved. Before submitting your application or review to SSA, contact CF Foundation Compass for a referral to the CF Legal Information Hotline® to see if you are eligible for free assistance.