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What’s the difference between SSD and SSI?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI or SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits are separate benefits programs. Both improve the quality of life for people with disabilities by providing assistance for basic needs. And both programs are managed by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Yes, the names and acronyms are confusing, but this article will outline their differences.

SSDI is like any other insurance plan in that recipients must pay into the system to become eligible for benefits. If you’ve ever received a paycheck with taxes withheld, part of those taxes probably went toward SSDI.

Disabled persons with limited or no work history can still qualify for SSI benefits. SSI was designed to help low income individuals with disabilities with limited assets. There’s no need to pay into a program of any kind to receive benefits from SSI.

What is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI or SSD)?

Social Security Disability Insurance provides monthly benefits to workers who are no longer able to work because of their disability. To qualify for SSDI, disabled workers must have worked long enough to pay into the system. When they were able to work, part of the income taxes the worker paid helped fund SSDI. Eligibility depends on earned work credits which you can learn more about on the SSA website.

To receive SSDI benefits, you must also have a disability that prevents you from working full time. The medical condition must have lasted or be expected to last at least 12 months. An individual must submit an application to the SSA outlining and supporting their disability claim. The SSA’s Blue Book provides detailed information about which physical and mental disorders qualify for Social Security benefits.

What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Supplemental Security Income also provides monthly benefits to disabled individuals whose disability prevents them from working. SSI helps those with little or no income or assets. But an individual’s work history does not play a role in determining SSI eligibility, only their current ability to work.

To qualify for SSI benefits, an individual’s assets cannot exceed $2,000. Cash, bank accounts, investments, real estate, and vehicles all count as assets in the eyes of the SSA. However, your primary home and a single vehicle used for transportation do not count as assets. Similarly, assets placed into a Special Needs Trust are not considered assets.

The SSA uses the same definitions of disability for SSI and SSDI. Thus, SSI recipients must be unable to work because of their disability and the disability must last at least 12 months.

Applying for SSDI or SSI

Applying for disability can be confusing. If you need help filing your claim or would like to appeal a rejected claim, Barnard Law Firm can help. As one of the best Social Security Disability Lawyers in Tulsa, Nathan Barnard knows exactly what the SSA looks for on applications. Contact us today for a free consultation and the best chance at a successful disability claim.

Your Local Social Security Disability and Injury Attorney Serving the Tulsa Area

Nathan Barnard is a sole practitioner in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Mr. Barnard's practice focuses on Social Security disability insurance claims.