When applying for Social Security benefits, you need to know the difference between Social Security Disability(SSD) and Supplemental Security Income(SSI).

As a practicing Social Security attorney in Daytona Beach, FL, I am often asked the difference between Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income.  There are two types of disability payments available through the Social Security Administration.  The first is Social Security Disability (SSD). The other is Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  Social Security Disability (SSD) is the benefit most people associate with being disabled.  SSD benefits are available to those who have paid in enough Social Security taxes to qualify for these benefit upon becoming disabled.  SSI benefits are available for those who may not have worked long enough to pay in the required taxes, or may have been out of work for an extended period of time and no longer qualify for SSD benefits. 

In order to qualify for SSD benefits, a person has to have enough credits with the Social Security Administration.  The basic rule of thumb in order to qualify for SSD benefits is to have paid into the system for 5 of the last 10 years.  In this event, that person is "insured" by Social Security and is therefore able to make a claim for SSD.  In order to determine whether a person is insured for SSD purposes,he or she can contact the Social Security Administration and inquire whether they are insured for SSD benefits.  Also, at the beginning of each year, the Social Security Administration sends out "Your Social Security Statement".  Usually, page 2 will indicate whether you have enough credits to qualify for SSD/Medicare.  In cases where the person may not have worked in the last few years, it would be beneficial to find out the last date that the person was insured for SSD purposes. The date last insured or "DLI" is the date that an individual must establish disability by in order to qualify for SSD benefits.  For example, if a person's DLI is 2/1/07 and they are just now applying for SSD for the first time, they may still be eligible to draw SSD if there is sufficient medical evidence to establish disability prior to 2/1/07. 

For those individuals that do not have enough credits to qualify for SSD or lack medical evidence to establish disability prior to a DLI, then that individual may be eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  SSI benefits may be available to individuals that have either not worked enough to qualify for SSD or for those who have not worked for a significant amount of time (usually several years).  However, unlike a claim for SSD benefits, SSI has an asset component that may prevent an applicant from receiving SSI payments.  An individual with more that $2000 in assets (savings, multiple properties) will be unable to receive SSI payments.  Also, household income can bar benefits or offset the amount received.

In short, you can be a millionaire and still qualify for SSD benefits if you become disabled.  However, if you have more than $2000 in assets and you are only eligible to apply for SSI, even if disabled you may be unable to draw SSI benefits.  It is important to remember, that in order to receive either benefit, you must still prove that you are disabled.  There is no difference in the burden of proof necessary to establish disability for SSD or SSI

This article is a very basic explanation of the two types of disability benefits.  If you have questions regarding Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income, please feel free to contact Johnson & Gilbert, P.A. for a free consultation.