What Is The Difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

First, how are SSD (Social Security Disability) and SSI (Supplemental Security Income disability) similar? The Social Security Administration manages both SSI and Social Security Disability, so, naturally, there are many similarities between the two programs.

Both SSD and SSI require that an individual make a formal application for disability benefits, usually at a social security field office or district office (whichever one is closest to you). Once a disability application is taken, a Social Security claims representative, or CR, will forward the disability file to a state disability processing agency for a medical determination.

Medical determinations for both SSI and SSD are handled the same way and if the disability claim involves both programs the medical determination is made simultaneously for both SSI and SSD. The difference in SSD and SSI really involves non-medical entitlement guidelines.

For instance, Social Security Disability is based upon an individual's work activity and insured status. Insured status is gained through the amount of earnings posted to an individual's earnings record each year by the Internal Revenue Service.

Each year, Social Security determines what amount of earnings equals a quarter of coverage. An individual can earn a maximum of four quarters of coverage per year toward insured status. The amount of quarters it takes to be insured depends upon an individual's age at the time they become disabled. The least amount of quarters of coverage an individual can have and still be insured is six quarters.

Additionally, Social Security Disability involves being "fully insured" and "disability insured". Disability insured status generally requires that an individual has worked twenty quarters out of the last forty quarters. Basically, five out of the last ten years prior to becoming disabled if no special disability insured rules apply (for example, there is a special "age 34-31" disability insured status rule).

For all "disability insured" individuals, there is a date first insured and a date last insured for Social Security Disability. If an individual has had a disability denial after their date last insured (appeals have been denied as well), they are no longer eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.

Since Social Security Disability is based upon an individual's earnings, disability benefits vary depending upon earnings amounts. In addition to potentially higher monthly benefit amounts, there may be enough money on the individual's record for their dependents to receive monthly benefits as well.

SSI, on the other hand, is a need based disability program. As such, it has income and resource requirements that must be met in order to receive a monthly benefit check. SSI disability beneficiaries must meet income and resource limits in order to receive disability benefits.

The income requirement refers to the fact that, to receive SSI, you cannot be working and earning what is considered to be substantial and gainful income (the current SGA limit).

The resource limit refers to the maximum value of a person's assets. Currently, to receive SSI you cannot have more than two thousand dollars in countable assets. Having more than this amount of assets can make you ineligible. Because of asset limitations and other rules that are specific to SSI, there are times SSI disability applicants are never paid benefits even though they have been found medically disabled by Social Security.

Lastly, Social Security determines the maximum monthly SSI disability amount and, unlike SS, there are no benefits payable to dependents.

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.

Questions and Answers

1. How Long Can You Receive Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI)?

2. Can I Get SSDI Disability If I have Not Worked Before?

3. Social Security Denied Me For SSD But Didn't Have All My Medical Records, What Do I Do?

4. After I File For Disability Will Social Security Pay For Me To See A Doctor?

5. Is It Harder To Get Approved For SSI Disability Versus SSD?

6. How Can You Get Medical Records For A Disability Case If You Have No Insurance?

7. Will You Get Social Security Disability Benefits If You Cannot Work Your Old Job?

8. What will trigger a review of a Social Security Disability claim?

9. For Social Security Disability Do I Need To Give My Dates of Treatment?

10. How are Social Security Disability cases decided? - the Process Social Security Uses In Every Disability Case

11. Does The Social Security Reconsideration Take as Long As The Disability Application?

12. When You Apply For Disability Do You Need To write Down Everything That Is Wrong With You?

13. Disability Criteria - Eligibility For Social Security and SSI Disability

14. For Disability, What Does It Mean When A person Can Only Do Sedentary Work?

15. Social Security Disability And Trial Work Months

16. How Does Social Security Decide How Much I Get For Disability?

17. How Disabled Does One Have To Be To Collect Disability?

18. Social Security Disability Medical Evaluation Form, Can A Doctor Be Forced to Complete One?

19. Can I qualify for disability if I am working?

20. Do CE exams usually result in denials for disability?

21. How to get disability, tip 1

22. How to get Disability, tip 2

23. How to get disability, tip 3

24. How to get disability, tip 4

25. Chances of winning Social Security Disability

26. SSI Disability Appeal works better than a new claim

27. The list of differences between Social Security Disability and SSI

28. Getting disability approved on a reconsideration with an attorney

29. Can you speed up a disability claim?

30. Should I get a lawyer if I have already filed for disability?

31. What is considered to be a disability for SSDI or SSI?

32. Who can get SSI disability?

33. If I get denied disability, should I get a lawyer?

34. How long does a disability appeal take?

35. How long does it take to get a disability check after approval?

36. Is there a cap on back pay for SSI?

37. How often do you have to recertify for Social Security Disability or SSI?

38. How long does it take to get approved for disability?

39. Do CE exams usually result in denials for disability?

40. When does Social Security send you for a neurological exam?

41. How do you get proof of your disability from your doctor?

42. What determines your disability benefit amount?

43. Will an inheritance stop my disability benefits?

44. When to Appeal a Disability Denial

45. What happens to my disability benefits if I move out of state?

46. Does Social Security send you to a MRI or CT scan?

47. How do I stay eligible to keep getting my disability benefits?

48. What do you need to get approved at a disability hearing?

49. Denied for disability, then my condition got worse

50. Can you get disability the first time you apply?

51. Should I get a lawyer for my disability hearing for SSD or SSI?

52. What to say at a disability hearing

53. How do you get the most in Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

54. Should I get representation for my disability hearing?

55. Can your doctor get you approved for disability?

56. Can you file for both SSI and SSD disability benefits?

57. What are wait Times for Social Security Disability Hearings?

58. How to dress for a disability hearing

59. Social Security Disability Appeal Attorney Fees

60. When does Social Security send you to an xray?

61. How many times can I appeal my Social Security Disability or SSI?

62. Getting Disability and Trying to work

63. Does my doctor decide if I am disabled?

64. Denied Social Security Disability Appeal

65. How long does a Social Security Disability judge have to make a ruling?

66. A medical or non-medical denial for disability

67. Denial by an ALJ at a Disability Hearing

68. How do you get your doctor to help your disability claim?

69. How long does it take a disability judge to make a decision?

70. How does Social Security make a disability determination?

71. Answering Questions at a Social Security Disability Hearing

72. Social Security Back Pay status

73. Can you apply for disability while working full time?

74. Getting disability benefits faster

75. How long does it take to start receiving Social Security benefits after applying?

76. Situations for which my disability benefits could be stopped

77. How do I get approved on a disability reconsideration?

78. What are the odds of getting SSI the first time?

79. Can you still get Medicaid if you have SSD?

80. Can you have a disability hearing without a lawyer?

81. Applying for disability for Plantar Fasciitis

82. How far back will SSI disability pay?

83. How long do disability benefits last?

84. How long after court will I know anything about my disability?

85. Automatic Disability Conditions for Social Security and SSI

86. Should I have a lawyer working on my disability case?

87. Can you get a quick disability decision?

88. Can you be denied disability if you meet a listing?

89. What are my chances of getting disability at age 45?

90. What is the fastest decision I can get for SSDI?

91. When should you file an appeal for SSI or SSDI?

92. Will I automatically get disability on the third try?

93. If you meet a listing do you automatically win your SSA disability?

94. How much back pay will I get for SSI?

95. How long does it take to file for disability?

96. Can I lose my disability benefit if I file an appeal for back pay?

97. What if you become disabled and are not insured for SSD?

98. How much does Social Security permanent disability pay?