It’s easy to be confused by two government benefit programs with somewhat similar names. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are both administered by the Social Security Administration (“Social Security”). Although some aspects of the programs are similar, there are three key differences between SSDI and SSI.
#1. Work Credits
To qualify for SSDI, you need to have a medical condition that’s expected to last at least one year or result in death. This illness or disorder must be severe enough that it prevents you from working.
To qualify for SSI, you must meet several requirements. One of the requirements is that you be at least age 65 OR be blind or disabled.
However, SSDI and SSI vary when it comes to work history. For SSDI, you must have accumulate4d enough work credits to qualify. Every year, workers have the opportunity to earn four work credits based on income. SSDI work credit requirements vary according to age, but a certain number of credits must have been earned within the past few years before you became disabled.
SSI does not require applicants to have work credits. In fact, work history does not play a part at all. However, current income does affect SSI eligibility.
#2. Income and Resource Limits
Social Security looks at income for both SSDI and SSI applicants. However, SSDI and SSI treat income a little differently.
SSDI applicants can have an income, but it must fall below the substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit. In 2020, the limits are:
- $1,260 for disabled applicants; and
- $2,110 for blind applicants.
Otherwise, income and resources don’t play a big role in SSDI benefits. The main qualifications are that you have a disability and that you earned enough work credits.
SSI does not consider all income to be countable income. In fact, non-countable income is deducted from monthly income for purposes of receiving SSI benefits.
As for resources, SSI does maintain a resource limit of $2,000 per month for an individual and $3,000 per month for a couple. However, not all assets are counted toward your resource limit. Talk to an attorney before assuming you do not qualify for SSI.
One very important distinction between SSDI and SSI involves health care coverage.
SSDI recipients may qualify for Medicare benefits, but there is a 24-month waiting period before Medicare begins. During that waiting time, SSDI may apply for Medicaid coverage.
On the other hand, SSI recipients automatically qualify for Medicaid.
SSDI and SSI Are Complicated, so Give Us a Call.
The attorneys at The Law Offices of Martin Taller have helped many clients resolve SSI issues. For a free consultation, call us at 714-385-8100. Though our office is located in Anaheim, we assist clients throughout Southern California.