Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

The Difference Between Social Security Disability and SSI Really Involves Work Activity

The medical determination process is the same for both Social Security and SSI. An individual files a disability claim with Social Security. Their disability claim is sent to a state disability processing agency. Once in the disability agency, the claim is assigned to a disability examiner. The disability examiner obtains the medical records from the sources that the disability applicant provided during their disability interview.

As the records come in, the disability examiner reviews them to determine if there is enough evidence to make a medical determination. If there is enough, they make a medical determination.

However, if the examiner determines more information is necessary, then a consultative examination is scheduled to get the needed medical information. When the consultative exam report is received, the examiner will make their decision. Once a decision is made, the local Social Security office completes any development regarding non-medical requirements.

In short, that is the medical determination process of a Social Security disability claim. So what are the differences between Social Security disability and SSI? Social Security disability is based upon insured status, and insured status is achieved through work activity. Each year, Social Security determines what amount of earnings equals one quarter of coverage. An individual has the potential to earn four quarters each year if they have enough income.

The number of quarters that it takes to insure an individual for SSDI (social security disability insurance) depends upon their age and how many quarters they have earned in the last forty quarters prior to the onset of their disability (when they became unable to perform at a substantial work level due to their disabling condition).

Of course, younger individuals may not even have forty quarters of coverage; consequently, there are special insured status rules for younger individuals.

However, there is a minimum amount of quarters for insured status and that is six quarters. No matter how young an individual is, they must have at least six quarters of coverage to be insured. Social Security monthly disability benefit amounts depend on an individualís earnings. Therefore, the monetary benefit amount varies from person to person and there may even be enough money to pay dependents of the disabled individual.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability, on the other hand, is based upon financial need not insured status. In fact, children can receive disability benefits through this program as well as adults with no earnings, very little earnings, or earnings in the past. SSI eligibility is met by meeting income and resource limits very much like other social service programs.

For SSI, if an individual is found medically disabled, their disability claim is always sent back to the local disability office for an end line interview to determine if they still meet the SSI income and resource limits. If they do not (usually meaning that their income or their assets have exceed the allowed limits), they may denied for disability benefits even though they have been found to be disabled according to social security administration standards.

Note: Asset levels only apply to SSI, not social security disability as social security disability is based on insured status, not need.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

Can I Get Disability If I Was Paid Under the Table?
What Determines If You Are Covered for SSDI (Social Security Disability) Benefits - The DLI Issue
Insured Status is What Makes SSDI and SSI Different From Each Other
What Is The Difference between SSD and SSI?
The Difference Between Social Security Disability and SSI Really Involves Work Activity
Am I Eligible to get Benefits (SSDI, Medicare) if I worked overseas and get a disability pension from another country?
When happens when a person that has been receiving SSD monthly payments dies?
Can You Get Disability Benefits If You Were Self-Employed and had Self-employment Earnings?

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria