How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

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 individual’s 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.

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related pages:

What to say at a disability hearing
How do you get the most in Social Security Disability SSI back pay?
What are wait times for Social Security Disability Hearings?
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?
If you apply for disability in Hawaii
Getting a Disability Lawyer in Hawaii

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

Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

Permanent Social Security Disability

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

Who is eligible for SSI disability?

Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

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?

For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.