SSI and SSD– what’s the difference?

Under the Social Security Act, there are two types of disability benefits that are potentially available to Claimants who are disabled for Social Security purposes—SSI (Supplemental Security Income benefits) and SSD (Social Security Disability benefits). What are they and how do they differ?

SSD Benefits— SSD benefits are available to disabled workers who have a significant work history (in most cases of at least 10 years) and who have paid into the Social Security system through their employers. A worker’s right to SSD benefits and the amount of theSSD benefits is generally not affected by the amount of their assets or other household income. By paying into the Social Security system through payroll taxes, workers acquire “insured status.” This insured status entitles the worker to Social Security disability benefits if they become disabled or Social Security retirement benefits if they retire. If a worker stops working for a significant length of time, they may at some point lose their insured status. If a disabled worker has not worked long enough to acquire insured status or has been out of work for a significant period of time prior to becoming disabled, while they will not qualify for SSD benefits, they may still qualify for SSIbenefits.

SSI Benefits— SSI benefits are benefits available to disabled individuals who do not have a significant work history or who have lost their insured status. SSI benefits, unlike SSD benefits, AREincome dependent. This means that SSI benefits are only available to low income individuals. The Social Security Administration uses an income test similar to the test used by Welfare to determine if an individual is eligible for SSI benefits. If a disabled individual has moderate assets or income coming into the home, then they will generally not be entitled to SSI benefits.

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