Is It Possible to Receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) at the Same Time


Many disabled people with financial needs ask “Is it possible to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) at the same time?” Although it is most common for disabled individuals to receive Social Security Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) income, it is possible for some individuals to receive SSI and SSDI at the same time if certain conditions or circumstances present. Social Security Administration is the administrator of both SSI and SSDI benefits programs. Low income, disabled persons may receive SSI even if they haven’t paid FICA taxes during a working career. In contrast, individuals who have paid into Social Security over the years may qualify for SSDI benefits. Both programs benefit disabled and/or disabled elderly persons.

SSI is specifically designed for low income elderly disabled persons with limited assets and income resources. A disabled person who has earned Social Security income credits (at least 40 credits) and who has paid FICA taxes in five of the last 10 years may qualify for SSDI income. If you’re poor and have earned minimum credits, it’s possible to qualify for both programs at least for a short period of time. If your SSDI income exceeds Social Security Administration’s earnings threshold, you won’t qualify for SSI after your SSDI earnings begin.

Qualifying Income for SSI Benefits

According to Social Security Administration, maximum SSI monthly benefits for an individual are USD 733 per month. It’s possible to earn supplemental income if your state offers one.

It’s economically challenging to live on USD 733 a month but SSI doesn’t expect you to work if you’re receiving SSI. Let’s say someone offers you work and you accept the assignment. It’s important for you to monitor how much extra money is coming in during the benefit period. If you earn a little less than double your SSI benefit, you won’t receive SSI benefits that month. Here’s how SSI benefits are calculated:

  • If you earn an additional USD 85 in the benefits period, that amount is exempt, but if you earn USD 733 your SSI benefit is effectively cancelled out.
  • If you’re blind or severely disabled, it is possible to offset additional earnings against expenses. In that case, your SSI benefit isn’t affected by the earnings at all.

SSI is a program for disabled, elderly, deaf, and blind people who can’t earn an income. The monthly limit for unearned income is essentially equal to the SSI monthly benefit. If you receive additional benefits, such as VA benefits, that exceed this baseline amount, you may reach the monthly unearned income maximum. SSA also considers “in-kind” and “deemed” income to earned or unearned income per month. For instance, if you barter services for goods and the result exceeds the monthly maximum, SSA may determine you aren’t eligible for SSI benefits in the benefits period.

If you have a financial windfall or receive a financial gift, contact your local SSA field office with questions or concerns.

SSI Eligibility

Unlike retirement benefits from Social Security, SSI benefits are calculated according to financial need and disability. Your income plus assets that can be liquidated or sold is used to define your level of financial need. SSA considers wages, worker’s comp, gifts from family and friends, or other resources to determine your eligibility to receive SSI.

  • Certain types of income or categories of income aren’t recognized by SSA in computing your need. For instance, loans you made to another person in the past aren’t considered as assets.
  • Other types of income are used by Social Security to calculate baseline income. Cash on hand, personal goods and property (securities like stocks and bonds and real estate you own are considered). Importantly, SSA doesn’t use the value of your furnishings, home, or car in the calculation. You may personally own up to USD 2,000 in assets (that can be liquidated for cash). If you’re married, you and a spouse may own up to USD 3,000. Supplemental income state programs may have even higher limits than those used by SSA.
  • You must be a U.S. citizen or a legal non-citizen resident of the U.S. unless you’re a military parent with a disabled dependent living abroad.

SSI and the Definition of Disability

If you’re a parent seeking SSI for a disabled child, you should know that SSA uses different disability tests for adults and children. For example, a child may have a physical or learning disability that isn’t a permanent condition. However, SSA must know that the child’s disability is expected to persist at least 12 months or result in death.

  • When the disabled child’s 18th birthday arrives, he or she must be considered according to SSA’s adult disability parameters. He or she is carried under the parent’s income and resources until age 18.
  • SSA’s definition of adult disability differs in this important way: An adult disability must last at least 12 months or result in death. Because of the adult disability, he or she is unable to work or pursue Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA).
  • Blindness, according to SSA, isn’t mere “legal blindness” or 20/200 vision as recorded by a licensed opthamologist. SSA considers the individual’s field of vision as an important test of blindness. If he or she has 20/200 vision but still has a field of vision of more than 20 degrees (with corrective lenses), SSA won’t agree that he or she is blind. For this reason, it’s important to ask the opthamologist to test visual fields over a period of time if vision loss is progressive. Contact your state’s Commission for the Blind to learn more.

SSI and SSDI at the Same Time

Some people do receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) at the same time. However, statistics show that it’s rare to simultaneously qualify and draw both SSI and SSDI benefits at the same time. If you’ve paid into Social Security over a work life, SSA says the average SSDI benefit is close to the maximum earnings threshold for SSI. If your savings are depleted by the time you apply for disability benefits, low assets and high medical costs and expenses can help you to receive SSI and SSDI at the same time.

When you apply for Social Security Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance income benefits, your SSA representative may volunteer that it may be possible for you to qualify for both benefits programs. If the SSA representative doesn’t offer the information, just ask. SSA understands that disabled people in financially stressful conditions are in search of help to pay for life’s essentials.