The Difference Between Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income

supplemental security income

For Americans with disabilities, making a living can be difficult. Social Security disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs provide the largest amount of income aid to those with disabilities. However, these programs do not provide assistance for those with short-term disabilities.



Social Security Disability Insurance

Americans who pay Social Security taxes can apply for SSD benefits. If approved, the SSA pays benefits to disabled workers. Family members may also potentially receive SSD benefits.

To be eligible for Social Security disability, the Social Security Administration must approve disabilities. The definition of disabled by the administration rules state that a person must not be able to perform work that could be done before, adjust to other work due to medical conditions or the disability is expected to last for more than one year or might result in death. Short-term disabilities are largely not counted as part of this definition, and the SSA assumes that working families will have other sources of income to support themselves such as workers’ compensation, health insurance, savings or investments.

After a person has received Social Security disability payments for two years, they automatically will be enrolled in Medicare for their health insurance. Medicare Part A is at no cost to the beneficiary and covers inpatient care and follow-up care, while Part B requires recipients to pay a monthly premium if they wish to have coverage for doctor’s visits, medical services, and outpatient hospital care.

Once a disability has been approved by the administration, the person will start receiving payments after the sixth month following approval. Once payments have been initiated, Social Security disability benefits are received the month after they are due. The amount received by an individual will depend on how much was contributed to Social Security and lifetime average earnings.

Americans applying for Social Security disability must meet certain eligibility requirements to receive benefits. Applicants need to submit information proving they are disabled. The SSA has a qualified list of disabilities that can receive automatic approval. However, not all disabilities are easy to prove and can take additional information to process before benefits are approved.

Supplemental Security Income

Unlike Social Security disability insurance, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is intended to aid those who earn very little income or are blind or aged. The income assistance is meant to provide coverage for basic necessities like food, clothing and shelter. This program is not funded by Social Security contributions. Instead, the program uses money directly from general  tax revenues.

To be eligible for Supplemental Security Income, applicants must be a resident of the U.S. To be considered, a person must be at least 65 years of age, blind or disabled. For all of these conditions, assistance is only given to those who make very little or no monthly income. Payment is based on financial need. To apply for Supplemental Security Income benefits, there may be other requirements and assessments involved to prove blindness or disability.

Some who receive assistance may need income in order to gain financial independence. Once they do, some may wish to return to the workforce. There are some incentives for Americans who become employed after receiving SSI. This includes continual Medicaid acceptance, even after Supplemental Security Income payments stop. It is also possible to receive Supplemental Security Income while employed. In fact, the Social Security Administration helps in some situations by not counting every type of additional income. Disabled and blind beneficiaries may also receive payments for travel accommodations to and from work, out-of-pocket costs for work-related expenses and Plans to Achieve Self-Support programs where recipients can put aside money each month.

Seeking Legal Assistance

Connecting to a legal representative may be beneficial when applying for either SSDI or SSI. A disability advocate or attorney can help you with collecting proper medical documentation, deal with the SSA on your behalf, and if necessary appeal a denied claim.

If you’re ready to connect to legal assistance in your area, take our free benefits evaluation below to see if you may qualify.

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