Can You Apply for SSDI and SSI at the Same Time?

Social Security Disability Insurance is known as SSDI. Supplemental Security Income is called SSI. What's the difference, and can you collect both at the same time? The short answer is, “Yes.” You can apply for and receive both types of benefits at the same time, and a Social Security attorney will be able to point you in the right direction and tell you which program would be best for your situation.

The Difference between SSDI and SSI

Supplemental Security Income is considered a needs-based Social Security benefit. SSI provides benefits to individuals who have been disabled, regardless of their age. SSI also pays to seniors over 65 years of age, whether they're disabled or not. Qualification for this program is based on financial eligibility and focuses aid for individuals who have a lack of resources or income in order to meet the basic needs of life.

Social Security Disability Insurance is an insurance that pays benefits to disabled workers. Benefits are limited to those who apply for and are approved for disability payments from the Social Security Administration. In many cases, SSDI benefits are based on an individual's work history and the amount of money paid into the FICA payroll tax system during the time that they worked.

Can You Apply for Both at the Same Time?

While both SSDI and SSI offer some similar benefits, the amount of monthly benefits may differ. Individuals may apply for and receive both SSI and SSDI benefits if the amount you get from your SSDI disability insurance is low. Therefore, you are allowed to receive SSI benefits in combination with benefits received from Social Security Disability Insurance, but only if your total allowable or countable income, including the SSDI benefit payments, is less than the income limit that is determined by the SSI disability program.

When you first apply for Social Security Disability benefits, the Social Security Administration will also check to see if you are eligible for Supplemental Security Income. You can receive SSDI disability payments for as long as you cannot work or are disabled as long as you meet the SSA’s disability criteria. The amount of your benefit payment depends on the number of years you've worked, the amount of money you earned during your employment and your age at the time of your disability.

On the other hand, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) pays set amounts each month depending on where the beneficiary lives, if they're living independently or in a facility and have not exceeded the income threshold. The state in which you live determines the threshold for income in your state and that determines whether you are eligible for SSI benefits.

SSI Determination

When determining an income threshold for SSI eligibility, applicants should know that the Social Security Administration does not count certain parts of your income toward the income threshold. The Social Security Administration does not count the first $20 of your monthly income, the first $65 a month earned from working and half of the amount that exceeds $65. They also don't count food stamps, home energy assistance or shelter from private nonprofit organizations as part of your income.

However, if an individual is married, the Social Security Administration includes a portion of the spouse's income and resources when deciding if an individual can qualify for SSI. The same goes for children under the age of 18, where a portion of a parent's income and resources are determined.

Individuals may need to apply for SSI in person at their local Social Security office, although Social Security Disability Insurance applications may be accepted online.