Generous Disability

Which do I apply for Social Security Disability Or Supplemental Security Income?

If you are confused about what the difference is between social security disability and supplemental security income and are not sure which program you should be applying for, this article is a must-read in order to understand the difference between the two. You may be able to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability benefits (SSD), even if you aren’t sure of your eligibility.

The Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income programs are both federal programs administered by the Social Security Administration. Both programs provide assistance to people with disabilities who meet certain requirements. 

People who have worked long enough may also qualify to receive Social Security disability or retirement benefits as well as SSI. Below is a simple explanation of each program and the benefits each provides to those who qualify. Understanding the difference between the two can help you decide which program to apply for depending on your circumstances. 

What is SSDI?

Social Security Disability Insurance pays benefits to people who can’t work because they have a medical condition that’s expected to last at least one year or result in death. Certain family members of disabled workers can also receive money from Social Security based on their work.

SSDI is funded with social security taxes paid by workers, self-employed workers, and employers. 

To get disability benefits, you must meet certain work credits based on the duration of work that show that you worked long enough under Social Security. In other words, the number of years you worked and paid social security taxes determines your monthly disability benefits.

To see if you qualify the social security administration will look at the following:

  • Is your condition considered a disability according to the social security administration
  • When your medical condition(s) began
  • How your medical condition(s) limit your activities
  • Medical tests results
  • What treatment you’ve received
  • Number of work credits depending on your age when you become disabled
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status 

You should apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled since processing an application for disability benefits can take three to five months and in some cases even longer. 

When applying for Social Security Disability you have the right to representation by an attorney or other qualified person of your choice. Having an advocate on your side may increase the chances of your application being approved. 

What is SSI?

The Supplemental Security Income program provides monthly payments to adults and children with a disability or blindness and who have income and resources below specified amounts. SSI payments can also be made to people 65 and older without disabilities who meet the financial limits. This program is funded through general revenues from taxes, therefore benefits are not based on your prior work history.

Whether you can get SSI depends on your income and resources (the things you own).

A couple may be able to get SSI if they have resources worth $3,000 or less. If you own property that you are trying to sell, you may be able to get SSI while trying to sell it. Social Security doesn’t count everything you own in deciding whether you have too many resources to qualify for SSI. For example, the home and land where you live,  life insurance policies with a face value of $1,500 or less, and your car are usually not counted as resources. Resources that are counted in deciding if you qualify for SSI include real estate, bank accounts, cash, stocks, and bonds. You may be able to get SSI if your resources are worth $2,000 or less. 

To be eligible for SSI a person must meet the income and resources requirements, must live in the United States or the Northern Mariana Islands, and be a U.S. citizen or national. In some cases, noncitizen residents can qualify for SSI.