It’s easy to get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) confused. They’re both programs run by the Social Security Administration, and they’re both designed to help people who are disabled and can’t support themselves through work.

Many people are at least somewhat familiar with the Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) program and its benefits, as they have paid into the Social Security system through payroll taxes.

However, there is another benefit available to some disabled individuals called Supplemental Security Income (“SSI” or “Title XVI benefits”).  Unlike SSDI, Supplemental Security Income eligibility is based on your current income and resources, and not how much money you have earned in past years or how long you have worked.

SSI can provide you additional monthly benefits over and above what you would receive from SSDI alone.

Adding SSI to Your SSDI Benefits

Once you are found unable to work due to medically severe impairments, the Social Security Administration will evaluate your finances to determine whether you are also eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income.

One of the initial factors that will be reviewed is how much “countable income” you receive on a monthly basis.  For 2019, the maximum monthly “countable income” a single person could receive was $771 and for a married couple it was $1,157.

There are many items that are excluded for purposes of determining your countable income.  For example, the value of Supplement Nutrition Assistance Programs (“SNAP” or food stamps) you may receive does not count as income for purposes of the SSI program.

The other factor that Social Security must evaluate to determine your financial eligibility are your “resources.”  “Resources” are things you own that can be used to pay for food or shelter: for example, money in bank accounts.  Again, there are many items that you may believe to be “resources” that Social Security actually excludes from their calculations, such as the value of the home you live in.  Therefore, even if you own your home or one personal vehicle, you may still be financially eligible for SSI.


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Differences Between SSDI and SSI Payments

Unlike disability insurance, SSI does not pay past-due benefits for any time before you filed an application.  This means, for example, that even if you were found to be disabled and unable to work as of January 1, 2015, but you did not file an SSI application until January 1, 2017, you will not be able to collect any SSI benefits before January 1, 2017.

Not Sure Whether To File For SSI?

To protect your right to as many benefits as you are entitled, make sure to file for SSI as soon as possible.  Although SSI is not available to everyone that is found to be disabled, you should inquire as to your eligibility status when you begin your application process.

Additionally if you were previously determined to be ineligible for SSI due to financial reasons, you may still file an SSI application if you experience a change in circumstances.  As it can be difficult to determine eligibility for SSI, anyone who cannot work and who may be eligible is encouraged to apply.

About Citizens Disability, LLC:

Since 2010, Citizens Disability has been America’s premier Social Security Disability institution. Our mission is to give a voice to the millions of Americans who are disabled and unable to work, helping them receive the Social Security Disability benefits to which they may be entitled.