Overview of Disability

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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

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SSDRC Disability Blog

What is the difference between Social Security disability and SSI?

A quick rundown

The sections below provide detail on how SSD are alike and different. However, in this section we will quickly explain key similarities and differences.

First of all, how are the programs alike? To qualify for disability benefits under either Social Security Disability or SSI disability, there is no difference between the two programs. The forms are the same, the application process is the same, and the rules for qualifying are the same. In this regard, they may as well be the same program.

How are the two programs different? The big differences have to do with the amount of money you receive and the medical benefits. SSI recipients may only receive whatever is the maximum SSI monthly benefit at any particular moment. For the year 2019, the monthly maximum SSI benefit amounts are $771 for an eligible individual, and $1,157 for an eligible SSI recipient with an eligible spouse.

Social Security disability, on the other hand, is based on what a person paid into the system over their years of working. The average SSD benefit is currently approximately $1200. However, it is not unheard of benefits to exceed $2000 per month.

Regarding medical benefits, SSI recipients receive medicaid and SSD recipients receive medicare benefits (after a two year waiting period that is often reached by the time a person actually begins receiving their monthly disability benefits).

The criteria that allows you to file for Social Security Disability

Social Security disability is a disability insurance program based upon an insured status earned through an person’s work activity. Payroll deductions are basically the Social Security disability insurance program’s premiums.

The earnings that the IRS reports each year determines how many quarters of coverage a person can earn for the year. The maximum amount of quarters a person can earn per year is four and the amount of quarters of coverage, or social security work credits, required for insured status depends upon the age the person became disabled.

The minimum amount of quarters of coverage required to fully insure a person is six and the maximum amount of quarters of required to be “fully insured” for disability is forty.

Social Security disability has a second requirement for disability insured status. Not only does a disability applicant have to be fully insured for disability, they must be “currently insured” as well. Generally, current disability insured status requires a disability applicant to have worked at least twenty of the forty possible work quarters prior to the month they became disabled. However, there are special rules in place for people younger than age thirty-one.

To reiterate, to be eligible for Social Security disability, the disability applicant must be both fully insured and currently insured.

The criteria that allows you to file for SSI Disability

SSI or Supplemental Security Income disability, on the other hand, is a disability program intended to help individuals who are not insured for Social Security disability. Individuals who have not worked, who have worked very little (possibly entitling them to a small Social Security disability benefit amount that is under the SSI maximum benefit amount), who have worked in the past but are no longer currently insured for Social Security disability, and children. SSI disability is based upon need not insured status.

SSI disability beneficiaries must meet income and resource limits at the time of their disability application, when their disability claim is approved, and periodically as long as they are entitled to SSI disability benefits. SSI disability is a needs based disability program and like other needs based programs, SSI beneficiaries must meet the financial requirements of SSI to remain eligible to receive disability benefits. Whereas, Social Security disability beneficiaries are not subject to any kind of resource and income limits.

More differences between Social Security Disability and SSI

The SSI disability program has no required waiting period; SSI disability beneficiaries are potentially eligible to begin their disability benefits with the month they file for disability. While Social Security disability requires a five month waiting period beginning with the first full month after the date the beneficiary became unable to perform substantial work activity because of their disabling condition (unless their substantial gainful work activity began the first day of the month).

Social Security disability may pay a disabled worker’s dependents monthly benefits based upon the disabled individual’s record, provided there is any remaining money on the record after the disabled worker is paid their disability benefit. Social Security disability has a family maximum payable on a disabled worker’s record.

The amount payable to dependents is the difference between the disabled worker’s disability benefits and the family maximum. If there is no difference, there is no money to pay dependents. SSI disability allows no possibility of benefits for dependents. SSI disability benefits are payable to the disabled individual only.

Social Security Disability, SSI, and Health Insurance

Another important difference between SSI disability and Social Security disability is eligibility for health insurance. In most states, SSI disability beneficiaries are eligible to begin receiving Medicaid insurance when they become entitled to disability benefits. While Social Security disability beneficiaries, whose monthly disability benefits preclude SSI disability eligibility, will have to wait two years from the month they are eligible to receive their monthly disability benefits to receive Medicare coverage.

There are a few Social Security disability beneficiaries who are able to receive Medicaid benefits as well as Medicare insurance benefits. Generally, these disability beneficiaries have monthly benefits that allow them to be entitled to both SSI and Social Security disability simultaneously or they have Social Security disability benefits that are low enough to receive Medicaid even though they are too high for SSI disability entitlement.

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

Related pages:

SSI Disability - Filing for SSI Benefits
How much time does it take to get an SSI Decision?
What Benefits come with SSI Disability?
Is There A Maximum Dollar Amount For SSI Disability?
What is the difference between Social Security disability and SSI?
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
What are the Assets that count for SSI Disability?
SSI Benefits - who is Eligible and How do I apply for them?
SSI Benefits - what do they include and how long does it take
What are the Application Requirements For SSI Disability?
The SSI Award Letter from Social Security
Does SSI disability come with automatic medical care?
Determining Social Security Disability and SSI eligibility

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.

Filing for disability - When should you file?
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
Am I eligible for Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria