Sudden blindness from disease or injury is devastating to you and your loved ones. You have many questions. You need many answers – and you need them fast. 

The Social Security Administration offers benefits for the blind through two programs. Understanding the programs, and which is appropriate for you, is a difficult task. 

How Social Security helps 

No two situations are identical. Neither are the programs that provide financial and medical benefits. Following is a brief overview of Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income: 

  • SSDI is available if you have paid Social Security taxes and can no longer work. The money comes from your contributions to the Social Security trust fund. In some cases, benefits are available to your dependents. 
  • SSI makes payments if you have limited income and resources. You also must meet other criteria. The funds come from general tax revenues. Some states have similar programs that coordinate with Social Security. 

It is possible to qualify for both programs. Either program takes 90 to 180 days before you receive a ruling, so it is important to not waste time. 

How Social Security confuses 

The programs have much in common. However, they also have many differences that make the application process complex. An innocent mistake can cost you time and money. 

Under SSDI, you are dealing with the Medicare system, a federal program. SSI involves Medicaid, which means that you are dealing with both federal and state bureaucracies. 

Some of the confusion stems from how the programs calculate your monthly benefits. SSDI bases benefits on your lifetime average earnings. SSI uses something called the Federal Benefit Rate. 

How to secure Social Security benefits 

With the maze of rules and regulations, the chances of mistakes are high. At times, SSDI and SSI can seem like they exist for the sole purpose of frustrating you in your pursuit of benefits. 

It is important to remember that you have a right to these benefits under state and federal laws. Educating yourself about the process can pay off for you and your family in the long run.