Overview of our disability programs

We manage two programs that provide benefits based on disability or blindness, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.

Social Security Disability Insurance Program (SSDI)

SSDI provides benefits to disabled or blind persons who are “insured” by workers’ contributions to the Social Security trust fund. These contributions are based on your earnings (or those of your spouse or parents) as required by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). Title II of the Social Security Act authorizes SSDI benefits. Your dependents may also be eligible for benefits from your earnings record.

Supplemental Security Income Program (SSI)

The SSI program makes cash assistance payments to aged, blind, and disabled persons (including children) who have limited income and resources. The Federal Government funds SSI from general tax revenues. Many states pay a supplemental benefit to persons in addition to their Federal benefits. Some of these states have made arrangements with us to combine their supplemental payment with our Federal SSI payment into one monthly check to you. Other states manage their own programs and make their payments separately. Title XVI of the Social Security Act authorizes SSI benefits.

When You Receive Both SSDI and SSI

We use the term “concurrent” to describe persons who are eligible for disability benefits under both the SSDI and SSI programs. To show how a person’s concurrent benefits would be affected by returning to work, we have provided an example on EXAMPLE OF CONCURRENT BENEFITS WITH EMPLOYEE SUPPORTS.

NOTE

The SSDI and SSI programs share many concepts and terms, however, there are also many very important differences in the rules affecting eligibility and benefit payments. The following table summarizes differences between the SSDI and SSI programs. These differences are important as many persons may apply or be eligible for benefits under both programs.

Comparison of the SSDI and SSI Disability Programs

Comparison of the SSDI and SSI Disability Programs

 SSDISSI
Source of paymentsDisability trust fundGeneral tax revenues
Minimum Initial Qualification Requirements
  • Must meet SSA's disability criteria

  • Must be “insured” due to contributions made to FICA based on your own earnings, or those of your spouse or your parents.
  • Must meet SSA’s disability criteria.

  • Must have limited income and resources.
Health Insurance Coverage Provided Medicare. Consists of hospital insurance (Part A), supplementary medical insurance (Part B), and Medicare Advantage (Part C). Voluntary prescription drug benefits (Part D) are also included. Title XVIII of the Social Security Act authorizes Medicare. Medicaid. A jointly-funded, Federal-State health insurance program for persons with limited income and resources. It covers certain children, and some or all of the aged, blind, and disabled in a state who are eligible to receive federally-assisted income maintenance payments. Title XIX of the Social Security Act authorizes Medicaid. The law gives the states options regarding eligibility under Medicaid.
How do we figure your monthly payment amount?

We base your SSDI monthly payment amount on the worker’s lifetime average earnings covered by Social Security. We may reduce the amount if you receive Workers’ Compensation payments (including Black Lung payments) and/or public disability benefits, for example, certain state and civil service disability benefits. Other income or resources do not affect your payment amount. We usually adjust the monthly payment amount each year to account for cost-of-living changes. We can also pay SSDI monthly benefits to dependents on your record, such as minor children.

To figure your payment amount, we start with the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR). In 2014, the FBR is $721 for a qualified person and $1,082 for a qualified couple. We subtract your countable income from the FBR and then add your state supplement, if any.

We do not count all of the income that you have. The income amount left after we make all the allowable deductions is “countable income”.

The sections on SSI employment supports explain some of the ways that we can exclude income.

We usually adjust the FBR each year to account for cost-of-living changes.
Is a State Supplemental Payment provided? There is no state supplemental payment with the SSDI program. Many states pay some persons who receive SSI an additional amount called a “state supplement”. The amounts and qualifications for these state supplements vary from state to state.