SSD vs. SSI: Do You Qualify for Both?


If you or someone you love is suffering from a disability, physical or mental, you know how it can be to get by. The US Social Security Administration has two programs that work to aid those suffering from some form of disability.

While both programs work to offer assistance to those with a disability and share many common features, there are some differences too. 

Are you wondering whether you can qualify for SSD or SSI benefits? Are you trying to understand SSD vs SSI benefits and qualifications? 

The Social Security Administration runs two programs for disabled citizens. Read on to learn more about how disabled people can get benefits from either the SSD or SSI program.

What Are SSD Benefits?

SSD stands for Social Security Disability benefits. This is a type of disability insurance offered through the Social Security Administration  (SSA) for those who have a work history and have become disabled. 

SSD provides benefits if you can prove you have a disability and the disability falls under the SSA’s definition of a disability.

You apply for this benefit through the SSA. It can be a daunting process and one that often requires the assistance of an attorney who knows disability law. 

What Are SSI Benefits?

SSI stands for Supplemental Security Income. It, too, is a program in place to support someone suffering from a disability. Unlike the SSD that is funded through money paid into the Social Security Administration, SSI is supported through tax dollars

SSI helps those who suffer from a disability but have had little or no income to make them eligible for SSD benefits. The SSI program works to get food, clothing, and shelter for those with a disability.

How Are SSD and SSI Disability Benefits Alike?

While the money for the programs is funded differently, there are some similarities in the programs. Obviously, both work to provide assistance to those who are suffering from a long term disability. 

The disability should be expected to last at least a year. If the disability is expected to result in death you would likely qualify. Also, if the disability prevents you from performing any form of work. 

Both SSD and SSI use the same basic process to get approved for benefits. They also use the same medical criteria for qualifying. This can be helpful if you want to qualify for both programs. More on that later. 

SSD and SSI Programs for the Disabled

While their funding source is different, these two programs share many similarities. You can apply for both programs by visiting your local social security office. You can also apply for SSD benefits through the SSA website. 

Both programs provide monthly monetary benefits to those who qualify. 

Family Benefits and Work Requirements

One of the key differences between SSD vs SSI benefits involves work history. Just like qualifying for social security benefits when you reach the age of 65, SSD benefits are based on your work history. 

As you work through the years, social security keeps track of your work credits. These work credits qualify you for the SSD benefits should the need arise. Your work history might also qualify certain members of your family for an SSD benefit. 

SSI, on the other hand, is based solely on income when you have the disability to qualify. Your family members can’t also qualify for benefits under your SSI benefits like they could with SSD.

Citizenship and Immigration Requirements

These two programs also consider citizenship for eligibility. 

All US citizens can qualify for SSD and SSI benefits based on their citizenship. 

Some non-citizens can also qualify for SSD and SSI benefits. For SSD the non-citizen must have  “qualified alien” status under the Immigration and Nationality Act and they should be in the US legally. 

SSI benefits also require a “qualified alien” status. There are additional situational requirements for SSI. It’s smart to consult with an attorney about these qualifications and your immigration status.

Income Requirements

The SSD program will not limit your benefits based on your financial resources. They won’t deny you benefits, for example, if you have money in the bank or savings. They might question awarding your benefits if you are earning income from another job. 

If you are truly disabled, they might question how you are able to earn a certain amount of wages from working. Having said that, SSD doesn’t reduce your benefits based on other income revenue.

SSI does have restrictions based on both income and resources. If you have accountable income, your SSI benefits could be reduced or even eliminated.  

Medical and Cash Benefits

There are also medical benefits attached with SSD and SSI. 

For SSD, you can qualify for Medicare after you have been receiving SSD payments for two years. Medicare, however, does have some required premiums, so it’s not entirely a free benefit. 

If you qualify for SSI, in most cases, you also qualify for Medicaid. This program is based solely on income and doesn’t require you to pay any premiums.

Can You Get Both SSD and SSI Benefits at the Same Time?

You can qualify for both SSD and SSI benefits at the same if you meet the requirements for both at the same time. 

You would need a long enough work history to qualify for SSD benefits. Then low enough income and revenue to still qualify for SSI benefits. 

Keep in mind that SSI will consider your SSD as income, so it could lower or eliminate your SSI benefits. But if your SSD benefits are low and you don’t have other resources, you can also qualify for SSI. 

Understanding SSD vs SSI Benefits 

If you are disabled, getting the benefits from SSD or SSI programs can be really beneficial. It’s important to understand  SSD vs SSI and how these programs differ as you prepare to apply for benefits. 

Getting approved for SSD or SSI benefits can often be a cumbersome process requiring lots of documentation back and forth with the SSA. It might be to your advantage to hire a lawyer who specializes in disability law. 

If you need help with either your SSD or SSI claim, we can assist you. Contact us today and we can do a 100% free evaluation of your case via phone, text or email. We want you to get the assistance you deserve.

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