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What is the difference between SSD and SSI?

Feb 9, 2024 |

Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) sound similar and they are both administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), but they have different eligibility criteria.


You may qualify for SSD if you have a disability and have earned enough work credits. To receive SSD, you must be currently unable to work due to an injury, an illness or another condition. The term used by the SSA is “unable to engage in substantial gainful activity.”

Usually, a qualifying disability for SSD purposes means that you have a severe impairment that is expected to last at least one year or end in death.

SSI is a needs-based program and there is no work history required. It provides financial help to disabled individuals who have limited income. The threshold for income and resources are set by the SSA and have limits. You must meet SSA’s definition of disability to qualify.

In some situations, you may be eligible for both SSD and SSI benefits. These are called concurrent benefits.

The appeals process

If your benefits are denied under these programs, you may be able to appeal. In some situations, you may be able to request a request reconsideration and if that is denied, you can request a hearing with an administrative law judge who will make a decision.

For SSD denials, the appeal may involve a review of your employment history and SSI may involve a review of financial records. Both SSD and SSI can involve a review of medical evidence to determine whether you have a qualifying disability.