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SSI vs. SSDI: Their Differences And How To Qualify

Social Security Benefits
Social Security Benefits

To put it simply, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are both Social Security programs. In this article, read and find out about their differences and how to qualify for both!

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are both programs of the Social Security Administration (SSA). Earlier this year, both programs received an increase of 5.9% due to the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) made. Since both programs are managed by the SSA, it is useful to know the difference between the two before applying.

According to Russo, both SSI and SSDI intend to provide assistance to beneficiaries with disabilities. However, the eligibility requirements of both programs are different. SSDI recipients have a nine-month trial period where they can assess their ability to work but still be considered disabled. During the trial period, there will be no limit on how much the beneficiaries can earn. SSI recipients, on the other hand, do not have this trial period.

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Who are eligible for these programs?

According to Russo, as long as the eligibility requirements of both programs are met, applicants can apply for both programs. For SSI, single applicants cannot own more than $2,000 in assets, while couples can own up to $3,000. The income limit is generally equal to the maximum benefit that can be received each month. Unfortunately, income tax refunds, food stamps, scholarships, grants, loans, and money gifts do not count as income for SSI.  Only wages, unemployment benefits, and other SSA benefits can count as income. For SSDI, the monthly limit for earnings is $1,350. However, it can be increased to $2,260 if a beneficiary is blind.

This year, the average SSI benefit per month is $621 which increased by $34 from 2021. This amounts to $7,452 for the whole year. For SSDI, on the other hand, the amount will be based on the age the beneficiary became disabled, their employment history, and their eligibility period. Fortunately, an applicant can apply and qualify for both programs. For example, a single applicant can receive $361 SSI benefits and $500 SSDI benefits per month.

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