What’s the Difference Between SSI and SSD? When contacting our office for representation, most people don’t realize that there are two different types of disability benefits offered by the Social Security Administration. There’s Social Security Disability (SSD). This is also referred to as Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits. The other type of benefit is called Supplemental Security Income, commonly known as SSI.
These two benefits have some similarities and some differences. Different people may only be eligible for one, both, or neither type of benefit. Your work history, living situation, income, and more will determine which benefit, if any, you may be eligible to receive.
As the application process can often be long and overwhelming, it’s helpful to understand the similarities and differences between SSD and SSI before filing any initial applications. It’s always a great idea to speak with the Social Security Administration, or meet with an experienced Disability attorney if you have specific questions.
The Difference Between Social Security Disability (SSD) and Social Security Income (SSI)
Disability Based Benefits
Before discussing differences, it’s important to know both SSD and SSI are disability based benefits. This means that in order to be eligible for either, you must meet the SSA’s criteria for being disabled. The SSA says physical or mental diagnoses can qualify as a disability, but they must render you incapable of performing past job duties or adjusting to new work. In addition, the impairment must be expected to last a minimum of one year or end in death. This criteria is the same for both SSD and SSI.
Both types of benefits are intended for people who are totally disabled, and not for those with short term or partial disabilities. Therefore, the SSA remains strict on their definition of a disability. In fact, the SSA reported 63% of initial applications for SSD were denied in 2019.
SSD Special Criteria
To be eligible for SSD, you have to have worked long and recently enough in a job covered by Social Security. The SSA uses work credits, as well as the age during which you became disabled, to determine if you meet this qualification.
Unless you have special circumstances, 40 credits are required to qualify. 20 of those 40 credits must have been earned in the past 10 years. While the amount changes annually, you can currently earn 1 credit for every $1,470 you earn at a maximum of 4 credits per year (2021).
If found disabled by the SSA, the amount of money you will receive on a monthly basis varies from person to person. The payments depend on how much you have paid into Social Security while you were working.
SSD & Substantial Gainful Activity
In addition to your work history, the SSA will look at your current work activity and income to determine whether or not you are eligible for SSD. The SSA has an allowable limit of total income applicants may earn per month. In 2021, that amount is $1,310.00 (gross pay) for non blind individuals.
This allowable limit relates to substantial gainful activity (SGA). Substantial gainful activity not only refers to the monthly dollar amount you’ve earned from work, but also to the type and amount of work you’re performing for pay. In other words, the SSA will consider whether or not your work involves significant physical or mental activities. While it can vary, most part-time and all full-time work for pay will be seen as SGA.
SSI Income Criteria
If you find yourself unable to work due to health conditions, but you do not have a strong enough work history to entitle you to SSD, you may instead be eligible for SSI. Unlike SSD, SSI monthly payments are fixed at a maximum of $794.00 in 2021. This dollar amount is called the Federal Benefit Rate or FBR.
SSI is commonly known as a low income version of disability, so your household income will be the one of the primary factors in determining eligibility. If you have a spouse or even a roommate that’s working, their income can impact the amount of money you’re entitled to receive in SSI benefits. The SSA has their own criteria for countable income.
Which Benefit am I Entitled to?
Even after considering your personal circumstances, you may still be unsure which type of benefit, if any, you’re eligible to receive. In this case it’s always a great idea to contact your local Social Security office, and/or reach out to a knowledgeable Social Security attorney. We know applying for SSD or SSI can be confusing, and happily offer free consultations to anyone in need of assistance.
Our experienced attorneys can assess your situation, and help advise you of the best course of action. In many cases, we can even file an initial application or appeal on your behalf. If you would like to file for benefits, or have received a denial to your application, send us a message or call 419-350-8277 to schedule your free consultation.