Menu

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 that provide monthly benefits to disabled persons. In some cases, an individual may be eligible to receive both SSD and SSI. Before you begin the process of applying for disability, it will help you to understand the non-medical eligibility requirements and functions of each program.

SSD pays monthly benefits to disabled persons who are insured through a Social Security trust fund as the result of contributions made to FICA from their payroll earnings, or the earnings of their spouse or parents. In order to qualify for SSD, you must meet the Social Security Administration’s criteria for being totally disabled and have the required credits of work. The credits of work vary depending on age; however 40 credits of work are usually required with 20 of those credits being earned within the last 10 years. Young people need fewer credits of work to qualify. There is no minimum age requirement to be eligible for SSD although it will end at a person’s normal retirement age and be replaced with Social Security retirement benefits. Medicare health coverage is available to individuals who have received SSD for two years.

SSI pays monthly benefits to people with low income and limited financial resources. In order to qualify for SSI, an individual must be disabled, blind, or age 65 or older. Children younger than age 18 may qualify for SSI if they meet Social Security’s criteria for a disabled child and the family members who live in the child’s household meet the income and resource requirements. Unlike SSD, it is not necessary to have quarter credits of work to be eligible for SSI. In North Carolina, individuals who receive SSI are also eligible for Medicaid to help with their healthcare costs.