Social Security’s Benefit Programs

Social Security Disability Insurance

Social Security Disability Insurance (sometimes abbreviated as SSDI, SSD, or DIB) is a disability program administered by the federal government to provide monthly compensation to individuals who are disabled prior to full retirement age. This program is often referred to as the disabled workers program.

SSDI is a federal insurance program funded through your payroll taxes specifically the FICA tax. SSDI requires a finding of disability (discussed below) and a recent work history. For most individuals over the age of 30, an individual must have worked five out of the last ten years before they became disabled to remain insured for SSDI.  Social Security calls this the quarters of coverage rule and requires that an individual worked twenty out of the last forty quarters.

SSDI pays on average $1,234.00 per month with maximums up to $2,861.00. A disabled worker with a family can received 150 to 180% of the individuals full benefit amount. Individuals who qualify for SSDI will receive Medicare Insurance after 24 months of eligibility.

The main benefit of qualifying for SSDI is that there are no financial restrictions. For SSDI there are no asset tests for eligibility. You can even work part-time and earn up to $1220 gross income each month and still receive benefits. If you receive residual income or assistance from friends and family, you can still receive your SSDI benefits.

Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental Security Income (sometimes called SSI) is a needs-based disability program. SSI still requires a finding of disability as discussed below, but also requires financial need. SSI is a program for individuals who have never worked, do not have a recent work history, or whose SSDI benefits fall below the federal benefit minimum of $750 per month.

SSI is administered from the Social Security Administration but is funded by the US Treasury’s general fund. SSI has strict resource and income rules in order to meet the financial eligibility requirements. To qualify financially for SSI, an individual must have less than $2,000 in financial resources. An individual can own one car and the home they live in. Any other assets disqualify eligibility. An individual cannot maintain assets in a retirement account or burial fund. If an individual has access to other benefits such as Worker’s Compensation, Veterans Benefits, or Pensions, they are required to exhaust them before qualifying for SSI.

In addition to SSI’s resource requirements, SSI also has income requirements. If an individual lives rent free, Social Security will deduct one third of a person’s benefits. If an individual receives income from any source, Social Security will administer up to a dollar for dollar deduction. Similarly, if an individual has a working spouse, their spouse’s wages will count against eligibility.

Individuals receiving SSI are entitled to a maximum of $750 per month. Individuals receive Medicaid insurance. In some states, individuals applying for SSI can receive $197 per month in cash benefits while they go through the appeals process.