What is the difference between Social Security Disability (SSD or SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Posted by Greg Marks | Oct 31, 2019 | 0 Comments

The two main disability programs administered by the Social Security Administration are Social Security Disability benefits, sometimes referred to as Disability Insurance Benefits or simply SSD, and Supplemental Security Income benefits often referred to as SSI.  The standards of disability for both programs are identical and somewhat complex, however, you basically need to have a condition that will prevent from working for at least 12 months, or result in death. You don't have to be off work for any certain amount of time to apply. However, if you are currently working and your gross pay (before any taxes or take-outs) exceeds about $1,200 per month, your claim will be denied without Social Security even considering your medical condition. The two programs differ in several important ways.

Social Security Disability benefits are for individuals who are found to be disabled and have worked and paid in Social Security taxes in at least 5 out of the last 10 years, although younger individuals need not to have worked that long to qualify for SSD. The amount of these benefits varies greatly and can be anywhere from slightly over $200 a month to over $2800 a month, although the average benefit is about $1,200. The amount you receive is based on the salary you earned and the amount of Social Security taxes you paid during your working lifetime. In some situations, your children and spouse are also eligible to receive benefits.

To receive SSI it is necessary that you be disabled, but you do not have to have worked for any certain period of time. Children can also receive SSI benefits. However, SSI is reduced by any other income you or your spouse receives. The maximum SSI benefit is currently about $770 per month. There are no payments to dependents for an SSI recipient.

Another difference between the two programs is the type of medical benefits that you would receive. With SSD, you will become eligible for Medicare 24 months after your first month of entitlement to benefits. In Kentucky, if you receive SSI benefits, no matter the amount, you will be entitled to Medicaid coverage, often referred to as passport in Kentucky.

About the Author

Greg Marks

Back in the early eighties, I worked as a young paralegal for a legal services program that provided free legal services to economically disadvantaged people in Eastern Kentucky. I frequently worked with recently disabled people by helping them to ...


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