What is the Difference Between SSD and SSI?

The Social Security Administration offers two different programs for individuals who are unable to work because of a physical or mental condition:  social security disability (SSD) and supplemental security income (SSI). The key difference is that SSD relies on what you “pay into” the system from your previous employment, while SSI does not.  Instead, SSI relies upon your financial need.

Generally, if you have worked 5 of the last 10 years, then you may be eligible for SSD.  With each paycheck that you make, you pay a little into Social Security.  In a way, Social Security is similar to an insurance policy, such as car insurance.  You pay a premium for coverage in the event of a bad event, such as a car accident.  Social Security works the same way, but the “bad event” for Social Security purposes is disability.  If you were to become disabled, you could apply for SSD “coverage.”  The work history you previously had provides you with this coverage.

While work history is an important eligibility requirement for SSD, SSI is based solely on your financial need.  Disabled individuals who have no more than $2,000 in resources (such as cash and property) should be eligible for SSI.   Social Security will determine whether what you have in resources makes you eligible for SSI.

In some circumstances, a person may be eligible to receive both SSD and SSI.  For example, if someone is living alone and has paid into the system through their work history so that they are now eligible for $500 a month in SSD benefits, this person might also qualify for approximately $300 a month in SSI, if the appropriate financial circumstances exist.  Again, financial resources (and your living arrangement) will affect your SSI eligibility and calculation.

Whether you qualify for SSD, SSI, or both, the SSD and SSI programs share one important thing in common:  they both require a determination by the Social Security Administration that you are disabled.

To discuss your specific circumstances and determine whether you are eligible for SSD, SSI or both, contact one of our attorneys today!