Social Security assists retired, disabled and survivors of workers with a monthly income or annuity. Recipients of Social Security disability benefits refer to the award as SSD or SSDI. Supplemental Security Income provides a monthly benefit for the disabled, blind and elderly based on need. SSI eligibility does not require a work history, and this program is not part of Social Security benefits. Confusion arises because Social Security manages the SSI program. Some individuals may receive both SSD and SSI.
Social Security Disability
Once you apply for Social Security disability, the state disability determination service evaluates your medical condition. This state office reports to Social Security when it completes the evaluation, and Social Security completes the determination process. This may take months or more than a year to complete. A Social Security disability award may include retroactive pay.
Supplemental Security Income
The disability part of SSI has similar requirements for a finding of disability. You must not be able to participate in substantial gainful activity. Social Security also evaluates your income and resources for SSI, as this program is need-based. Your resources or assets have a $2,000 limit with SSI, and this includes bank accounts, cash on hand and other items you could sell for income. Your house and car are exempt from the calculations. Your SSI award may include back pay.
SSD has a five-month waiting period that Social Security disability payments do not cover. These five months begin with the date of onset of your disability. SSI has no waiting period but any benefits are retroactive only to the date of your application. If you receive an award with retroactive payments, SSI may make these payments in three installments at six-month intervals. Your SSI and SSD retroactive payments may arrive at different times. Delays are common at the start of benefits.
The federal SSI benefit in 2011 is $674. Some states supplement the federal award. Your Social Security disability benefit is less or you will not be able to collect both benefits concurrently. For each month that you qualify, Social Security subtracts the SSD amount after the first $20 exemption from your SSI maximum benefit. If you receive $400 in SSD benefits, Social Security subtracts $400 less $20 or $380 from the $674 to arrive at your SSI benefit for the month. With these calculations, you would receive $400 from Social Security disability and $294 from SSI for that month. If you earn income in excess of the $65 exemption during the month, you must report to Social Security within 10 days of the end of the month. Earned income subtractions from your SSI amount are 50 percent. If you earn $265, Social Security subtracts $65 exempt, then divides the $200 by 2 to subtract $100 from your SSI check two months forward from the month you report it. SSI requires monthly reporting and your SSI checks may vary based on your reports.