What Is the Difference in Social Security Disability and SSI?

There are large differences in Social Security Disability and SSI.   Many times, people do not realize that they have actually applied for both of these benefits when they filed their application for “disability” with the Social Security Administration.    Let’s start with one thing these separate benefits have in common.  A person must be found to be disabled under Social Security’s rules to get either of these benefits.   The number one reason we are hired by is to help a client prove that he or she is disabled to the Social Security Administration.  But it is important to know there is much more to each of these benefits beyond the disability requirement.

Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI) requires a person to be “fully insured” to receive that benefits.  There are many ways to prove that a person is “insured”, but the most common way is to show that the person has 20 quarters of covered earnings in the 10 years before that person became disabled.   Covered earnings, generally speaking, means the person worked and had taxes either taken out of his or her paycheck or paid those taxes to the government as self-employment earnings.    Each year can bring a maximum of 4 covered quarters.  So, the rule of thumb is 5 years of covered earnings in the last 10 years.

SSI (Supplemental Security Income) does not have the “fully insured” requirement.  However, to qualify for SSI there are limitations on assets.   A claimant cannot have countable assets over $2,000 ($3,000 for a couple).   SSDI does not have this limitation.

Under certain conditions, if a claimant is approved for SSDI, then there could be a payment to the claimant’s minor children, and, if a child in the spouse’s care is under age 16 or is disabled, possibly a payment for the spouse also.   In Georgia, there is no SSI supplement for a spouse or child of a disabled claimant.

For SSDI, the amount of payment to the claimant is based on the worker’s earnings. SSI, however, is paid based on the federal amount set by Congress and there are deductions based on resources owned by a claimant.

Insurance is offered with either benefit.  If a claimant is approved for SSI, then Medicaid is available.  If a claimant is approved for SSDI, then, after the claimant receives 24 months of benefits, Medicare is available.

These are only a few examples of the differences in the SSI and SSDI programs administered by the Social Security Administration.  If you have specific questions about these benefits, please contact us and make an appointment to see one of our Social Security attorneys.


Leave your comment