Difference between Social Security Disability and SSI

We previously discussed Social Security’s Disability Insurance Benefit (DIB) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs.

The big difference between Social Security Disability vs SSI is how income affects eligibility.

Under the “Disability Insurance” Program, Social Security considers whether you are working and earning money (engaging in a Substantial Gainful Activity – SGA). If you earn too much money as income, you may be denied Social Security DIB benefits.  Of course, there are some exceptions.

In other words, if you are applying for Disability Insurance Benefits, your earnings, if any, may make you ineligible.  But, other sources of money: gifts, prizes, winnings, settlements, and even spouses income, are NOT counted in determining eligibility.

Under Supplemental Security Incomeall income: your earnings, your spouse’s earnings, gifts, settlements, and in children’s cases: household income, can make you financially ineligible to receive SSI.  SSI is a “needs based” program and a program of last resort, if you have another source of income, then your “needs” are viewed as decreased.

In addition to income, SSI also considers your assets in determining eligibility. The plot of land you own, those shares of stock you received, most any assets you have may make you ineligible for SSI.

HOWEVER, the income and asset rules are so complicated and have so many exceptions that you do not want to jump to conclusions about whether or not you may be eligible.  This is something you will want to go over with Social Security.

Which pays more? Social Security Disability Insurance (DIB) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits?

The maximum you can receive on SSI is based on the annual Federal Benefit Rate (FBR).  For 2014, the FBR is $721.  That mean the most you can receive on SSI in $721 per month.

Generally, Disability Insurance Benefits are based on your payroll contribution to Social Security.  The more you have paid into Social Security, the more in monthly benefits you may be entitled to.

If you want to get an idea of how much you may be entitled if you become disabled, Social Security has online benefit calculators which can estimate benefits amounts.  Social Security also mails you a “Social Security Statement” every year before your birthday which describes your estimated benefits.