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SSI vs SSDI: Does Disability Pay More Than Social Security?

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Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are two disability programs provided by the Social Security Administration (SSA). People who qualify for disability payments may be unsure which one pays out more.

Over the years, I have worked with several individuals on both programs, and the differences between each program are very confusing. 

I’ve decided to put together this article and explain each program to help you determine which one pays more.

Quick Summary

  • If you are receiving SSDI or retirement payments, you may still be eligible for monthly SSI payments.
  • Though less common, workers with high incomes could qualify to receive SSDI.
  • Any other income an SSI beneficiary receives will result in a reduction of their SSI benefits.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) vs Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
A lawyer talking to a client

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance are both federal benefits that provide cash to individuals who satisfy the federal definition of "disabled." However, each one has its own set of standards. Let me quickly break down what each one is.

What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

A lawyer writing down on a tabletSupplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program that pays low-income people and assets with impairments or blindness. SSI payments are paid to individuals 65 years old or older who fulfill financial requirements [1].

SSI payments arrive at various intervals, starting from the month after you apply. If the first day of any given month falls on a weekend or holiday, your benefits will come through on the business day prior.

Here are the three ways you can receive your SSI payments:

  • With direct deposit
  • Via debit card
  • Mailed in a Check

What is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

A lawyer talking to a client at a tableSocial Security Disability Insurance is a federal program that helps disabled workers who can't work because of a medical problem [2]

Social Security Disability beneficiaries must prove they didn't work for at least one year or have a terminal illness to get money from this program. A portion of every payroll tax contribution goes towards Disability Insurance.

The program's money is kept in an SSDI trust fund, which is where payroll tax revenues go and from which benefits are paid. This fund is legally different than the Social Security retirement fund, though it receives smaller amounts of money.

SSDI payments arrive six months after the SSA approves your disability application. After that waiting period, you will receive the benefits.

"SSDI is only available to those who have paid into Social Security taxes. If you earned wages or self-employment income, you have probably contributed to Social Security. If you have enough "work credits" from paying into taxes, you might be eligible for SSDI benefits."
- John M. Foy, Attorney

3 Differences Between SSI and SSDI

There are three main differences between SSI and SSDI:

1. The Type Of Program

A lawyer looking at paperworkSSI was created to care for elderly, blind, and disabled individuals who would have a more challenging time affording food and shelter. Because SSI is restricted for this group of people, it has very limited financial requirements, making it what is commonly known as a "means-tested" benefit.

On the other hand, SSDI is an entitlement program that gives financial assistance to those who have worked and paid into the Social Security system for a minimum of ten years without considering current income or assets.

2. Medical Benefits

Applying for SSI also comes with the perk of automatic qualification for Medicaid benefits. Many people apply for SSI primarily because Medicaid provides extensive coverage, including health insurance.

Beneficiaries of SSDI are eligible for Medicare two years after they are eligible for SSDI benefits, as opposed to ten years in the case of Social Security Disability Insurance.

3. The Financial Benefits Vary Greatly

A lawyer discussing a clipboardRegarding the amount of money provided, SSI and SSDI benefits vary considerably. In 2022, the federal SSI average payment standard will be $841 per month for an individual (with most states adding a little supplementary payment), while the average SSDI payment is expected to be $1,358 per month. 

Because SSDI is based on the beneficiary's earnings record, some people may receive much more than this.

When Does Disability Pay More Than Social Security?

Disability pays more than social security when you retire at age 62. Social security benefits are calculated on your highest 35 years of earnings. If you didn't begin working until age 25, your social security payments would be smaller than if you started at age 22.

If you become a disabled worker after age 63, your social security benefits would be based on the amount you would have received if you retired at age 62. However, your disability benefits would be based on the amount you would have received if you retired at age 63.

When Does Social Security Pay More Than Disability?

A lawyer reading a bookSocial security pays more than disability when you retire at age 70. Delaying your Social Security benefits can increase the amount of money you receive each month. Every month you wait after you reach your full retirement age (FRA), your benefit amount will go up by 0.8%.

If you are 70 years old, your Social Security monthly benefit will be more significant than your disability benefit. However, if social security determines that your disability began before your early retirement, you will not receive any SSI benefit.

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Can I Receive Both SSI and SSDI?

Yes, you can receive both (SSDI) and (SSI) simultaneously. Social Security calls it "concurrent" when you can get benefits from both the disability programs they offer. But if you get SSDI, it might reduce your SSI payment or make you ineligible for it.

Will My Social Security Disability Benefits Change When I Reach Retirement Age?

Yes, your social security disability benefits will change when you reach retirement age. Your SSDI benefits will convert to Social Security retirement benefits, and the amount you receive is based on your work history and earnings.

How To Calculate Your Social Security Benefit Amount?

To calculate your social security benefit amount, you must first figure out your average indexed monthly earnings, divide your yearly earnings with your employed years and calculate your primary insurance amount.

SSI vs SSDI: Which Pays More?

When comparing these two forms of Social Security benefits, you should note that SSDI benefits generally pay more. 

Disability, in this case, on average, pays over twice as much as SSI payments. However, each situation is unique, and the results may vary. Contact Schmidt & Clark for a free consultation with a social security disability lawyer to get help with your appeal or claim.



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