The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers two types of benefit programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI is based on your previous income and how long you paid Social Security taxes. SSI is based on your income and has strict financial limits.
It is possible to receive both SSI and SSDI at the same time. This is known as “concurrent benefits”. To qualify for both, it’s likely that you will be approved for a lower SSDI payment. This is often because you have not worked in recent years or that in the past your wages were low.
What Is The Difference Between SSI and SSDI?
SSDI and SSI are two different benefit programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). While disabled individuals can qualify for either program, there are some significant differences between SSDI and SSI. While they both have the same medical criteria for disability benefits, they do have other criteria or requirements that must be met.
To qualify for SSDI, you must have earned enough credits to be covered by the insurance. In general, this is 20 credits and to earn that many credits you must have worked the equivalent of 5 years full-time out of the last 10 years. Of course, that can vary depending on age and other circumstances. Talking with a Social Security representative can help you determine your eligibility.
To qualify for SSI, you must meet specific financial criteria. As of 2022, the income limit is $841 per month for an individual and $1,261 per month for a couple. Not all income is counted, so you may still earn more than those amounts and still qualify. The asset requirements are $2,000 for a single persona or $3,000 for a couple. Income that is counted includes earned income – minus the first $65 – per month.
So, in general, a couple can have about $2,400 in earned monthly income before your SSI check would be stopped. The SSA subtracts amounts that it does not count from your gross income. They subtract your countable income from the federal benefit rate - $841 – to come up with the amount of your SSI benefit.
Can You Get SSI and SSDI Both?
You can receive both SSDI and SSI benefits at the same time just so long as you meet both sets of criteria. That means that the total of both payments cannot be higher than your highest SSI payment. You do not have to complete two separate applications, and if the SSA believes that you meet the requirements for both and that you need both benefits, they will approve you for both SSDI and SSI benefits.
Because of the income requirements for SSI and the strict limits, many SSDI recipients are ineligible for SSI because their SSDI payments exceed the federal benefit rate (FBR). Currently, the FBR limit is $841 for an individual and $1,261 for couples.
The limits, though, can be confusing because only half of your income is countable toward the defined income limits set by the SSA. This means that you may get as much as $1,500 monthly and still qualify for SSI benefits.
Because the calculations process can be complex and difficult to understand, you should consult with a SSA representative or a disability attorney.
Someone who is familiar with the SSA guidelines as well as the financial calculations process can help you determine if you would qualify for SSI or if you could qualify for both SSDI and SSI benefits. Also, the FBR can change from one year to the next, so you want to make sure you are up-to-date on those totals and if your income falls into those limits.
Can You Receive Both SSI and SSDI?
You can receive both SSDI and SSI payments, but you have to meet the requirements of both programs. Therefore, the sum of both payments cannot be higher than your highest SSI payment.
You would not have to apply for both separately, and if the SSA feels you meet the requirements and it’s necessary, they will approve you for concurrent benefits. Because of the SSI limit, many SSDI recipients are deemed ineligible for SSI because their SSDI payment is higher than the federal benefit rate (FBR) limit.
The SSI’s benefit payout follows the FBR, which defines the maximum monthly income limit and maximum SSI payment. In 2021, the FBR limit is $794 for individuals and $1,191 for couples. However, the SSI limits can be a bit confusing. Only about half of your income is considered countable towards SSA defined monthly income. This means you could be making almost $1,500 per month and still be eligible for SSI.
Benefits of Receiving Both SSI and SSDI
SSDI and SSI benefits together can be helpful because they could get you as much money as possible through the SSA. For example, if you are already qualify for SSDI benefits, getting approved for SSI could increase your payout to the maximum of $794. Even if you started off getting SSI benefits, applying for SSDI could also raise your payments to $841.
The other benefit of getting SSDI and SSI is that you could be eligible for Medicare and Medicaid together. SSI receipts in most states are eligible for Medicaid as soon as they are for SSI. SSDI recipients are eligible for Medicare two years after their disability onset date. Medicare is generally accepted by more doctors, but Medicaid is more affordable and you don’t have to wait for it.
How Do I Apply for Both SSI and SSDI?
When receiving SSI and SSDI, the SSA will determine if you qualify for SSI, SSDI or concurrent benefits. This decision will be based on your current income and assets as well as your spouse’s income and assets. You claim will be evaluated the same no matter how your claim has been defined.
When a claim is evaluated for SSI and/or SSDI, you will need to medically qualify. The SSA uses the Blue Book to evaluate all claims to determine if the medical requirements are met. There are many conditions that qualify for disability benefits. There are hundreds of listings within the Blue Book, each with specific medical criteria that must be met.
Look over the Blue Book with your doctor to see if you meet a listing. You will need to supply medical evidence to show that you are unable to work due to your disabling condition. Use the Blue Book as a guide make sure you enough evidence to support your claim. You will also need to meet other requirements.
Along with the medical requirements, you will need to have enough work credits. These are earned by working and paying into Social Security taxes. The number of work credits you need changes based on your age. On average, you will need to have worked 5 of the last 10 years to have enough work credits to qualify for benefits.
Unlike SSDI, SSI is based on financial need, no work credits. Because SSI is a needs-based program, you will need to have less than $2,000 in income and assets if you are unmarried. If you are married, your combined income and assets with your spouse will need to be less than $3,000.
Can Someone Help Me Apply?
If you are unsure if you qualify for SSI, SSDI or both, a lawyer may be able to help. With the assistance of a lawyer, you can establish if you qualify for SSI, SSDI or concurrent benefits. A lawyer can help with the