Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are two separate benefit programs . While both programs provide financial assistance to blind or disabled persons, the eligibility guidelines are very different. Understanding how these programs differ is vital to helping people seek the appropriate benefits, as well as increasing their chances for approval.
What Is Supplemental Security Income?
SSI is a federal supplemental income program for disabled adults and children. Designed to aid those with little or no income, the SSI program provides cash assistance payments to people to help them meet their basic food, shelter, and clothing needs. General tax revenues fund SSI benefits, not Social Security taxes paid by workers.
SSI is available to those who are blind, disabled, or age 65 or older. To qualify for SSI, people must also have limited income, limited resources, and meet certain other eligibility requirements. A means test determines if people’s incomes qualify, and applicants for SSI benefits cannot have more than $2,000 individually or $3,000 as a couple in resources. Resources are defined as those items people own that could be converted into funds to apply to food and shelter expenses.
What Is Social Security Disability Insurance?
SSDI is linked to the Social Security retirement program and provides financial assistance to disabled workers. The program is available to people whose health conditions force them to stop working before they reach retirement age.
Only those workers who have paid Social Security taxes qualify for SSDI benefits. Eligibility for this type of assistance is determined by Social Security work credits. Work credits are earned based on people’s total yearly wages or self-employment income. The amount of credits needed to qualify changes annually and depends on the ages at which people became disabled. When claims are evaluated, more credibility is typically given to applicants who have a strong work history.
Can People Receive Concurrent SSI and SSDI Benefits?
There are situations in which people may receive SSI and SSDI benefits at the same time. If those living with disabilities receive SSDI benefits but get low monthly payments, they may also qualify for SSI. Factors that may contribute to low SSDI benefits include earning relatively low wages throughout employment history, working very little or not at all over the past decade, and having little work history prior to or at the time of becoming disabled.