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What is the difference between SSI and SSD?

Both Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are managed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and provide benefits to people who are unable to work because of disability or blindness. However, there are significant differences between the two programs. The table below outlines those differences.


Social Security Disability

Supplemental Security Income

Sources of benefits

Social Security Trust Fund funded by contributions from both workers and employers

General tax revenue

Qualification for benefits

Must meet eligibility criteria for disability and be "insured" based on contributions under FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) from you or your spouse

Must meet eligibility criteria for disability and have limited income and resources

Source of health insurance coverage for people receiving SSD and SSI benefits

Medicare that includes hospital insurance (Part A), and supplementary medical insurance (Part B). Medicare Advantage (Part C) and prescription drug benefits (Part D) are both voluntary and not offered through the SSA.

Medicaid, which is a program funded jointly by state and federal governments for people with limited income and resources. It covers certain children, the blind, the aged and the disabled.

Basis of monthly payment amount

Based on the recipient's average lifetime earnings covered by Social Security. The benefit may be reduced if there are other sources of benefits such as workers' compensation or certain public disability benefits.

The Federal Benefit Rate (FBR). In 2015, the FBR is $733 for an individual and $1,100 for a couple. Countable income is subtracted from the benefit, so some people who meet the disability criteria may still not receive any SSI benefits because of their countable income.

State supplemental payment


All states have supplements for SSI recipients except Arizona, Mississippi, North Dakota and West Virginia. The amount of the supplement varies.

Working while receiving benefits

Work incentives encourage people to try working. Benefits are not reduced during a nine-month trial period. If you continue working after that, you can receive benefits in any month that your earned income falls below $1,090 for 36 months. Medicare coverage continues or can be purchased under some circumstances.

Work incentives allow the SSA to exclude certain earned income from countable income. In some cases, people may continue to receive Medicaid even if they are earning too much to receive SSI benefits.

Of course, the details of each significant difference between the two programs need more explanation. If you believe that your disability may qualify you for benefits under either SSD or SSI, it is important to find out about your eligibility and get help submitting your claim for benefits. At Binder & Binder®, America's most successful Social Security Disability advocates, we have helped countless numbers of people like you obtain the benefits they need and deserve. For more information, contact us from anywhere in the United States and territories. Tell us about your situation and find out how we can help.

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