Quick Facts on Byron

Benefits Programs Explained

Differences in Benefits

Determining Eligibility

Applying for Benefits

Seeking Help

Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Claims

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability (SSD) are two different government programs administered under the Social Security Administration. While both programs are designed to provide benefits for disabled individuals, there are many differences between the two. Only individuals who have a disability and meet medical criteria may qualify for benefits under either program.

  1. Benefits Programs Explained

The SSI program pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources in addition to a qualifying disability.

The SSD program pays benefits to disabled individuals and certain members of their family if individuals are “insured,” meaning that they have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes.

  1. Differences in Benefits

In short, SSD is based on a person’s word history while SSI is based on financial need.



  • Based on prior work under Social Security (“work credits”)
  • Monthly benefit based on Social Security earnings record of insured worker
  • Medicare coverage automatically after receiving SSD benefits for 2 years
  • Spouse and children may also qualify for benefits
  • Based on both disability and financial need
  • Monthly payment varies up to the max federal benefit rate (may be supplemented by the State/decreased by countable income and resources
  • Eligible for Medicaid
  • Spouses and dependents not covered unless they meet SSI requirements

  1. Determining Eligibility

The medical requirements for benefits eligibility are the same for both SSD and SSI and are determined under the same process. To be eligible for either program, the claimant must meet SSA’s guidelines of a qualifying disability. This disability must also last at least one year or be a permanent disability to be eligible.

Outside of medical requirements, there are varying criteria among the programs.

To qualify for SSD:

  • Must be disabled according to the SSA disability guidelines
  • Have enough work credits

To qualify for SSI:

  • Must be disabled according to the SSA disability guidelines
  • Must meet certain income and resource limits
    • Limited income-money earned from work, other benefits, friends/relatives, free food/shelter
    • Limited resources- things owned such as cash, land, vehicles, any personal property that could be converted to cash used for food/shelter
      • SSI limits for resources $2,000/individual or child and $3,000/couple

It’s also important to note that even if you have not earned any work credits, you may qualify for SSD if the SSA decides that you are disabled and unable to work. You do, however, need to meet certain income restriction guidelines in order to qualify for SSI.

  1. Applying for Benefits   

The application process for both SSD and SSI disability is the same; when you apply for disability there are no distinct differences between the two programs.

The first step to obtain disability benefits is to file an application with the Social Security Administration (SSA). You may file online or in person. Be prepared to complete several forms that include the application, an adult disability report, and authorization to disclose information to the SSA.

When filing your application, have all necessary documents ready. These include everything from W-2 forms to all medical records. A complete list of all documents can be found on the SSA website.

Of all documentation, one of the most important is medical evidence of your disability. Obtaining proper medical documentation to show an inability to work is critical. These records can include both emotional and physical disabilities in addition to side effects from medication.

  1. Seeking Help

Understanding the differences, which is best for your individual case, and how to apply for benefits can be overwhelming. Working with an attorney specializing solely in Social Security disability can help you analyze your case to determine whether your disability may be eligible for benefits.

You can file for benefits as soon as you become sick or injured if your condition is expected to keep you out of work for 12 months or longer. There is a limited window of opportunity to apply for benefits, so it’s important to apply as soon as you’re unable to work. Even if your claim has been denied, there is a 60-day appeals process. Contact Byron A. Lassiter & Associates, P.C. Attorneys at Law to learn more about your eligibility for Social Security Benefits.






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