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

When I Apply for Disability - Should I apply for Social Security Disability or SSI?

The disability evaluation process under social security tends to be fairly long. Even at the initial claim level (the application for disability), it can take as much as six months to receive a decision. And if a claim is denied, appeals may easily consume just as much time, if not more.

Currently, the first appeal, the request for reconsideration, will take three months on average and a request for hearing may take more than a year. Therefore, individuals who are unable to work, or find their ability to maintain a job seriously compromised by physical or mental health issues may wish to apply for disability as soon as possible.

Which Social Security Disability program should you file for? Frankly, you can apply for Social Security Disability or SSI disability; however have no choice as to the disability program you are eligible for. Social Security evaluates you for both Supplemental Security Income disability (SSI) and Social Security Disability during your disability application interview.

Title 2 benefits: Social Security Disability

Social Security Disability is based on an insured status earned through your work activity prior to becoming disabled. Earnings equal quarters of coverage that are in turn used to establish eligibility for Social Security Disability. Each individual can earn a maximum of four quarters of coverage each year.

Social Security Disability is essentially an insurance program whose premiums are paid through your payroll deductions. After you stop working and paying these premiums, you are generally insured for about five years.

If you have not earned enough to qualify for Social Security Disability or you are no longer insured for Social Security Disability, you may be able to apply and receive disability benefits through the SSI disability program. While the SSI disability program is not based on work activity or insured status, SSI has its own eligibility requirements.

Title 16 benefits: SSI Disability

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability is a need based disability program that relies on income and resource (asset) limits to determine who is potentially eligible to receive disability benefits. Social Security determines income and resource limits each year.

The SSI income limit usually changes periodically, however the SSI resource limit has remained the same for many years. This does not mean the resource limit could not change at some point in the future. Resources counted to toward the SSI resource limit include, but are not limited to, the following: vehicles, land, homes, bank accounts, 401K or other retirement accounts, burial plots, jewelry, cash, settlements, inheritance, etc.

Currently, an individual can have $2000.00 in resources excluding their most valuable vehicle and the home (and the land it sits on) they live in. All other vehicles, homes, and land count toward the resource limit.

Income can include unemployment benefits, long term or short term disability benefits, pensions, wages, workman’s compensation benefits, etc.

SSI monthly income limits are also variable due to family composition. For example, families with more children are allowed a higher amount of income prior to becoming ineligible for SSI benefits than individuals who live on their own.

You can choose not to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) even if you qualify for the program. SSI is a need based disability program, therefore Social Security is not going to force anyone to file. However, if you do want SSI disability benefits, you have to apply for any Social Security benefits you might be eligible to receive in order to offset the amount of money paid by the SSI program.

In a nutshell, you can apply for both Social Security Disability and SSI disability, but an application does not mean you will meet the eligibility requirements SSI or SSD. You cannot really choose which disability program you file for other than refusing SSI disability. Your eligibility to both or either program will be determined by Social Security and SSI disability guidelines.

If you have enough earnings (from your work history) to be entitled to disability insured status, an application for Social Security Disability may be taken. If you have not paid enough into the system to qualify for SSD, you may still be entitled to file for SSI disability. However, as SSI is a need-based program, this will depend on your income and resource levels.

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:

Should you Look at the Disability File that Social Security has on You?
How do I apply for a Social Security Disability widow’s claim?
Who handles my case if I apply for Social Security Disability?
Social Security Disability Application Online
Can I apply for disability online?
Can I Collect Unemployment While I File For Disability Benefits (SSD or SSI)?
What medical conditions can you apply for disability for?
To Apply For SSI or SSD Disability Benefits, Where do I Start?
When You Apply For Disability, write Down Everything That Is Wrong With You
When I Apply For Disability, Should I List My Old Meds From Years Ago?
When I Apply for Disability - Should I apply for Social Security Disability or SSI?
What happens if you are working when you file for disability or work after you apply?
If Social Security Turns Down My Case Can I apply For Disability A Second Time?
Determining Social Security Disability and SSI eligibility
Will I qualify for Social Security Disability SSI in California
Getting a Social Security Disability SSI Attorney in California
How long do disability claims take in California and why

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.