SSI And SSD - What's The Difference?

By A. Tereasa Rerko, Esq.

Quite often I am asked what the difference is between Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Here is a quick overview of these two programs.

SSD is a monthly income benefit for individuals who are disabled. An individual must meet the strict rules set up by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in order to be considered "disabled". Only if an individual meets these rules, will they then receive a monthly payment from the SSA. The amount received depends upon their personal earnings history (the income that an individual earned throughout their working life, and up until they ceased working). Based upon that income history, the SSA calculates how much each individual will receive if they meet the disability requirements.

SSI is also a monthly income benefit for individuals who are disabled according to the same "disabled" rules as a person who is approved for SSD. What is different about SSI benefits is the monthly amount an individual receives. Since SSI is a needs-based benefit, you must have a financial need to receive the money, in addition to being disabled. SSI benefits may be payable to individuals who have not worked, have worked for a short period of time and/or for a low amount of income, or to a person who worked for an extensive period of time, earning a large income, but has not worked for about 5 years. The SSA considers all of an individual's household income, and uses guidelines to decide if that individual has a "financial need" to receive the money. Every SSI recipient in Pennsylvania receives the same amount each month. This monthly amount changes every year, in December, when the SSA makes its annual cost of living adjustments.

Please remember that both SSD and SSI are programs that pay monthly benefits for a disabled individual if they meet the requirements and guidelines set forth by the SSA. If you think you may be entitled to SSD or SSI benefits, contact our Social Security department via email or phone us at 724-837-0080 in Greensburg or toll free at 888-534-6016 and we will review your individual circumstances with you in detail.

For more information on Social Security please visit our expansive Social Security Information Center or our Social Security Frequently Asked Questions.

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