The Social Security Administration offers two different types of benefit programs: SSI and SSDI. You can receive both SSI and SSDI. However, each program has its own requirements. You have to meet those requirements independently to qualify for either (or both) form of benefits.
What is SSI?
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a monthly benefit check. People who “collect social security” after the age of 65 often mean that they’re getting an SSI check. SSI is available to people who are 65 and older. Additionally, you can qualify for SSI at any age if you have are blind. Moreover, you may qualify for SSI at any age if you have a disability or medical condition that prevents you from working for one or more years.
What is SSDI?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is specifically for people who have a disability. They must also have a qualifying work history (which can be their own work history or that of a spouse or parent). Like SSI, this is a monthly benefits check.
SSI vs SSDI
The two programs are different. However, as you can see, people with disabilities may qualify to receive both SSI and SSDI. The core difference between the two programs is eligibility:
- SSI is based on age and/or disability as well as income. People must have limited income to qualify for SSI.
- SSDI is based on disability as well as work history. They, or their family members, must have a sufficient amount of employment history to qualify for SSDI.
Put very simply: SSI is based on economic need whereas SSDI is based on work history (as well as the other qualifying factors for each.)
Therefore, people with disabilities don’t automatically qualify to receive both SSI and SSDI. They may only qualify for one or the other. In other words, someone with a disability who has sufficient work history may qualify for SSDI. However, if they earn too much then they may not meet the income need requirement to qualify for SSI.
Receive Both SSI and SSDI
There is a sweet spot in terms of income and work history that allows you to receive both SSI and SSDI benefits. Oftentimes, people who receive SSDI already receive an amount than is higher than the federal benefit rate limit. If that’s the case, then you get too much from SSDI to qualify for SSI.
However, depending on your employment credits, you may not make too much from SSDI to qualify for SSI. If you’re in that sweet spot, then you may be eligible to receive both forms of payment. To do so, you must apply to both programs separately.
As of 2020, the maximum SSI payout for individuals is $783 per month. For couples, the maximum amount is $1175. For “essential persons” the maximum is $392. If you qualify for SSDI but get less than those amounts from the SSDI monthly check, then you can use SSI to boost up to the maximum amount.
SSI, SSDI, and Health Care
When you receive SSI or SSDI, you also qualify for health care. SSI recipients almost always qualify for Medicaid when they begin receiving SSI. SSDI recipients often qualify for Medicare after being on SSDI for a period of time. Therefore, if you receive both SSI and SSDI, then after a period of time you may qualify for both Medicaid and Medicare.
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