Can I Qualify for SSDI and SSI Benefits at the Same Time?

Posted by Scott Flexer on Nov 21 2017

Social-security-disabilty-339845-edited.jpegThe Social Security Administration (SSA) runs two separate programs that provide disabled persons with financial assistance on a monthly basis. The first program, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), is aimed at providing assistance to individuals who can no longer work due to any medical conditions that are expected to last for at least one year or result in death. In order to be eligible for SSDI, you must have previously worked and paid enough into social security.

Download eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Applying for DisabilityOn the other hand, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), is funded by general tax revenues and provides assistance to individuals based on their financial need. Eligibility for SSI is therefore determined by your personal income and assets. In some cases, it is possible to qualify for both SSDI and SSI at the same time. This occurs when your income and assets are low enough to qualify for SSI, and your SSDI payment is not large enough to make you ineligible for SSI.

This article will explore situations in which you can be eligible for both programs, and how your monthly payments will look.

Qualifying for SSI

Eligibility for SSI is based on financial need. To qualify for SSI, the total value of your personal assets cannot exceed $2,000 for single people and $3,000 for couples. Personal resources include bank accounts, stocks and bonds, and real estate.

When determining your income, SSA calculates your countable income. The countable monthly income, which will be discussed more in depth below, must not exceed $735 per month for eligible singles and $1,103 per month for eligible couples in order to qualify for SSI in 2017. Starting in January 2018, the monthly amounts will increase by 2% to $750 for individuals and $1,125 for couples due to a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).

Qualifying for SSDI

In order to qualify for SSDI, you must have earned enough work credits through your previous employment. The amount that you will receive as SSDI payments will depend on your accumulated payment of Social Security taxes. 

Learn how you can file a disability claim for SSDI or SSI in Florida.

Determining eligibility for both programs

To become eligible for both SSDI and SSI, or what SSA refers to as being eligible for concurrent benefits, you will need to fulfill two basic conditions. You must:

  • have a monthly income and assets that are low enough to qualify you for SSI
  • have worked long enough and paid into social security to earn enough work credits for SSDI

Typically, you cannot receive a higher monthly payment amount than you would otherwise receive under SSI alone. You also cannot be eligible for SSI if your monthly payments from SSDI exceed $735 per month. Therefore, applicants who are receiving a high enough payment from one program are typically not eligible to receive payments from both programs.

Here are some examples to help you understand the situation better. If you’re currently receiving an SSDI payment of more than $735 per month (the current maximum federal rate for SSI), then you will not be eligible for SSI because of the income requirement.

However, if your SSDI payment is less than $735 and your assets+income enable you to qualify for SSI, you will be eligible to receive an SSI payment that lifts your SSDI payment up to a maximum of $735. Therefore, if you’re currently receiving $450 via SSDI and you also qualify for SSI, you will be eligible to receive up to $285 ($735-$450) in SSI payments.

There are certain circumstances where your SSI payout may be less than the maximum. This occurs when your countable income is deducted from the base SSI rate.

SSI countable income

The SSI countable income is the portion of your monthly income that the SSA uses to calculate your monthly SSI amount. When looking at your gross income, the SSA typically does not consider the following items as part of your countable income:

  • Principal earned income exclusions, which include the first $65 you earn from working and half of the total monthly earnings received over that amount
  • Princip unearned income exclusions, which include the first $20 per month in countable unearned income

For example, if you earn wages of $300 per month, the SSA will not consider the first $20, leaving $280 to be considered. From this amount, the first $65 will also not be considered. This leaves 280-65= $215. Half of this remaining amount then will be considered as your countable income ($215/2= $107.50 to be considered). $107.50 will be subtracted from the $735 maximum amount that you can receive as SSI, making you eligible to receive $735-107.50= $627.50 in SSI every month.

In such a situation where your SSI payment is less than the maximum, being eligible for SSDI can raise the SSI payment to the maximum amount of $735, or close to it.

How you can benefit from receiving both SSI and SSDI

In addition to getting a higher monthly amount that is close to the maximum federal rate, you also can become eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. All SSI recipients are eligible for Medicaid, and SSDI recipients can qualify for Medicare two years after their date of entitlement to disability benedfits. This means that qualifying for SSDI and SSI gives you access to both medical programs.

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Topics: SSDI, SSI

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