Sep 29

The Difference Between Social Security Income and Social Security Disability

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Social Security IncomeSupplemental Social Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI or SSD) are both confusing to determine whether someone qualifies for one or the other. This question seems to be one of the most common questions amongst Social Security applicants. Although they may appear to be very similar, they both have exceptionally different eligibility requirements.

Supplemental Security Income is a “need-based” disability benefit that is available to individuals who are lacking work credits for SSD, for those that have low-income or for an individual who has never worked. Applicants must have a limited income, limited resources, live in the United States or Northern Mariana Islands and be a U.S. citizen or one of the categories of aliens. SSI is funded by general fund taxes and has nothing to do with your work history. In order to qualify for SSI, the federal benefit rate, which cannot be exceeded, is currently set at $721.00 for individuals and $1,082 for couples per month. The Social Security Administration (SSA) determines what is included as your countable monthly income and what is not. Please click here to read an article that defines what the Social Security Administration includes and excludes from your monthly income. Once applicants are approved, your monthly payment that you receive is based solely on your financial need.

On the contrary, Social Security Disability is available only to those who have worked and have obtained enough work credits throughout their work history. Recipients of Social Security Disability are “insured” because of this. Typically, you can earn up to four work credits per year. If you have not worked long enough to earn these credits when you become disabled, you will apply for SSI rather than SSD. During these working years candidates have contributed to the Social Security trust fund, which we all know as Social Security Taxes. All SSD candidates must be between the ages of 18 and 65 with valid work credits. Please click here to view an article that explains the process for calculating your work history and credits. The next requirement that must be taken into consideration is your physical and mental impairments. Please see the Social Security Administration’s impairment listings for the most up to date listings and see if you automatically qualify. These benefits are only eligible to those that have a long-term disability. This condition must be acute enough that it will interfere with your basic work activities and is expected to last for at least one year or result in death. Currently, if you make over $1,070.00 per month you will be told that you are capable of performing substantial gainful activity (SGA) and you will not qualify for SSD benefits. For those candidates that are approved, the SSA will conduct a review on your file every one to three years to see if you have improved or if your medical condition is still preventing you from working.

If you or a loved one may be entitled to Social Security benefits, it would be important to talk to an attorney who handles social security matters before you apply to determine whether you are apploying for the correct social security benefits.


Attorney Matthew Noyes represents those fighting to obtain their Social Security Disability benefits. His Clearwater law firm – Perenich Caulfield Avril Noyes – is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Pinellas County. Call Attorney Matthew Noyes now at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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