Trying to understand the complex system managed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) can be frustrating. Virtually every American is familiar with the retirement benefits that we have contributed to throughout our careers.
However, two programs called Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) often get confused with one another.
In the most fundamental descriptions, SSI represents basic income assistance to older and disabled Americans that live with limited resources.
On the other hand, SSDI provides financial support for Americans who are disabled regardless of income.
What is the Difference Between SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
The biggest difference between SSI and SSDI concerns eligibility for financial assistance. SSI is an income-based program that helps Americans live with income that falls under the threshold established by the SSA. It helps older and disabled Americans to bridge the income gap between living in poverty and living above the poverty line.
Although SSDI benefits depend on an applicant’s work history, the most important criterion used to make a decision on a claim is based on reviewing medical records to determine disability status.
Payments represent another difference between Social Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance. In 2022, the average monthly payment for SSDI is $1,358, while the average monthly payment for SSI is just $586.
You might qualify for SSDI benefits up to a year before you apply, but SSI benefits start one month after the day you received approval from the SSA. SSDI applicants enjoy a higher approval rate for claims, although the SSA denies a large number of disability claims.
Requirements for SSI or SSDI
To receive SSA benefits, you must be blind, disabled, or at least 65 years old. The SSA needs proof you are a United States citizen or a lawful resident of the country.
You must prove you live on a limited income that in 2022 is no more than $841 per month for an individual and $1,261 for two spouses if both spouses receive SSI benefits. How the SSA defines income includes wages, government payments, and non-cash assets such as stocks and bonds.
Qualifying for SSDI requires you to show the SSA you have worked in an eligible job that Social Security covers. The most important factor for qualifying for SSDI benefits is to submit medical evidence that demonstrates you suffer from a disability listed in the SSA medical guide called the Blue Book.
You also have to meet the severity of symptoms standards published in the Blue Book to gain approval for an SSDI claim.
Can I Get SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits at the Same Time?
Yes, you can qualify for SSI and SSDI benefits at the same time. However, your SSDI payments must be low enough to justify the approval of SSI benefits.
For example, if your SSDI payment is less than the SSI maximum threshold, you might qualify for a small SSI payment. If you qualify to receive SSI and SSDI benefits at the same time, the SSA labels this type of arrangement as concurrent benefits.
Schedule a Free Case Evaluation
SSI and SSDI represent two distinct programs managed by the SSA. To become eligible for SSI, you have to have income that falls below a certain level.
For SSDI benefits you must prove you live with a disability that prevents you from working an SSA-qualified job. Learn more about SSI and SSDI by scheduling a free case evaluation with a Social Security attorney.