Understanding the Difference Between Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are two programs administered by the Social Security Administration. Both programs provide monthly benefits to disabled individuals, and in some cases, an individual may be eligible to receive both SSD and SSI benefits. Before starting the application process for disability benefits, it’s important to understand the non-medical eligibility requirements and functions of each program.

SSD offers monthly benefits to disabled individuals who are insured through a Social Security trust fund. This insurance is a result of contributions made to FICA from their payroll earnings or the earnings of their spouse or parents. To qualify for SSD, applicants must meet the Social Security Administration’s criteria for being totally disabled and have earned a certain number of work credits. The required work credits vary depending on age, with 40 credits usually needed, and at least 20 of those credits must have been earned within the last 10 years. Young individuals may require fewer work credits to qualify. There is no minimum age requirement for SSD eligibility, but the benefits end at the individual’s normal retirement age and are replaced with Social Security retirement benefits. Those who have received SSD benefits for two years are eligible for Medicare health coverage.

On the other hand, SSI provides monthly benefits to individuals with low income and limited financial resources. To qualify for SSI, an individual must be disabled, blind, or aged 65 or older. Children under the age of 18 may also qualify for SSI if they meet Social Security’s criteria for a disabled child, and if the family members living in the child’s household meet income and resource requirements. Unlike SSD, SSI eligibility does not require earning quarter credits of work. In North Carolina, individuals who receive SSI benefits are also eligible for Medicaid, which assists with healthcare costs.