Social Security Disability VS. Supplemental Security Income

What they mean, and where to start.
Confident handicapped man meeting his friends after a personal injury case. after a

Social Security Disability VS. Supplemental Security Income

When applying for benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA), it can be difficult to determine whether you should apply for Social Security Disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income.  Both programs include a disability and non-disability component, so it can be confusing to decide which program may apply in your situation.  Fortunately, we are here to help you learn the difference between the two programs. 

What is Supplemental Security Income?

According to the Social Security Administration, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are “monthly benefits to people with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, or age 65 or older.” Disabled or blind children are also eligible for SSI. To find out if the SSA considers you to be blind, visit their webpage.   So, to qualify, you must prove that you are “disabled” AND have little income and few resources.

Can I be considered disabled by the Social Security Administration?

The SSA considers adults to be disabled if:

  • Their disability results in an inability to work for pay or profit; AND,
  • Their disability has lasted or is expected to last 12 months or longer.

Do I have a limited income?

For SSI purposes, the SSA considers income to be:

  • Money earned from work;
  • Money received from other sources, such as Social Security benefits, workers compensation, unemployment benefits, benefits from the Department of Veteran Affairs, and/or friends and relatives; and,
  • Free food or shelter

The SSA has a limit on how much an individual or couple can earn and still be eligible for SSI benefits. This limit is the same as the maximum Federal amounts eligible individuals and couples can receive in SSI benefits per month. Generally, an individual cannot have an income of over $783 per month and a couple cannot have an income of over $1,175. However, the SSA does not count all income towards your eligibility. If your monthly income exceeds the limit, you may still be eligible for SSI benefits. Visit the SSA’s website to find out more.

Do I have limited resources?

The SSA considers resources to be the things you own such as:

  • Cash
  • Bank accounts, stocks, U.S. savings bonds
  • Land
  • Vehicles
  • Personal property
  • Life insurance
  • Anything else owned by you that could be exchanged or converted into cash and used for food or shelter.

Like income, the SSA has a limited on allowable resources for you to be eligible for SSI benefits. Individuals or children cannot own more than $2,000 worth of resources, while a couple cannot own more than $3,000 worth of resources.

What are Social Security Disability benefits?

In order to be approved for Social Security Disability benefits, the Applicant must show that she is “disabled” AND that she has sufficient work credits to qualify.  The SSA insures workers for disability throughout their work history. To qualify for disability, you must have worked long enough and earned enough work credits by paying Social Security taxes. To learn more about the qualifications for disability benefits, visit our post explaining it in depth. 

What is the difference between Social Security Disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income?

The main difference between the two programs is what we call the “non-disability” component.  Both programs require you to prove that you are “disabled.”  However, SSI requires that you have little income, few resources, AND be disabled.  The Disability program requires that you have enough work credits AND that you be disabled.

Some people qualify for SSI, others for Disability.   Depending upon the circumstances, some will qualify for both, while others do not qualify for either program.  

If you have been denied Social Security Disability or SSI benefits, contact us now to discuss your options.  You only have SIXTY (60) days to appeal an unfavorable decision.  SSA denies MOST original applications, but we find that many disabled people get approved after appeal.  The process is NOT quick and easy; however, you can’t get if you don’t ask.  Call Abbott Law Office at 350-HOPE (4673) or email me at

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