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.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability in North Carolina

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Tips to Prepare for Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI

Advice to Win SSD and SSI Benefit Claims

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

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?

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

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