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How Can I Be Eligible for SSI but Not SSD?

I have had many clients ask me why they would be potentially eligible for SSI benefits but not for SSD benefits. The answer to these questions requires a quick look at the two separate Social Security Disability programs.

First off, the two programs, SSI (supplemental security income) and SSD (Social Security Disability), are both payable to someone who is disabled. The standard to prove disability is the exact same for both programs and can be summed up as the inability to perform any work eight hours a day, forty hours a week. This is commonly referred to as the medical portion of a SSI or SSD claim.

The other aspects of the two programs is where the differences lie. SSD benefits are payable only to those people who have worked 5 out of the last 10 years. You need 20 work credits to be eligible for SSD benefits, and you can earn one credit per quarter that you work. If you have not worked 5 out of the last10 years, you will not be eligible for SSD benefit.

SSI on the other hand does not require any kind of work history to be eligible for benefits. Instead, one must prove that they are disabled and that their resources fall below a certain level. After someone is determined to be disabled for SSI benefits, Social Security will do an asset test to determine if that person has any income, assets, property, and other resources. Social Security uses a complicated formula to determine eligibility, and it is performed on a case by case basis. If you fall below the asset limit, and you are disabled, you are entitled to SSI benefits.

Therefore, someone may be fully disabled and only entitled to SSI benefits because they have not worked long enough to have enough work credits to be eligible for SSD benefits.

If you would like more information on either program, please contact my office