Some claimants only apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD or SSDI for short) benefits. Others only apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. However, in some instances claimants may qualify for both SSDI and SSI benefits. Applying for both types of benefits is called a “concurrent claim.”
Under certain circumstances, a claimant may be eligible to collect SSI and SSDI at the same time (called “concurrent benefits”). This typically happens when a disability applicant is approved for SSDI but only receives a low monthly payment.[Note: A low SSDI payment can be caused by not working much in recent years or making low wages.]
Qualifying for SSI
In order to qualify for an SSI payment in addition to (or concurrently with) an SSDI payment, the claimant must have less than $710 per month of unearned income (this is the rate in 2013). Generally speaking, the SSI income limits can be fairly complicated. The income limit is higher in some states than others. And if you are working and making some earned income, an even different limit applies. The SSI program also has asset limits, which means that you can only have a limited amount of cash savings, valuable property and other assets to qualify for SSI. Similar to qualifying for food stamps, you must prove you are “poor enough” to qualify for SSI.
In the end, if (1) your monthly income and overall assets are low enough to qualify for Supplemental Security Income, and (2) you have also worked long enough in one or more jobs and paid sufficient Social Security taxes into the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) system to earn enough work credits, you may qualify to receive both types of benefits at once.
Monthly Payment of Concurrent SSDI and SSI Benefits
SSDI and SSI benefits do not “stack” on one another. In other words, you don’t add the entire amount you may qualify for under each program together. You cannot receive a higher monthly combined benefit than you would otherwise receive under the SSI program alone. Your SSI payment amount will be lowered by the amount of your SSDI payment to match the maximum SSI payment amount.
For example, if your SSDI benefit is under $710 per month (the current maximum SSI monthly payment amount in 2013) and you qualify for SSI, you will receive an SSI payment for the difference between your SSDI benefit and $710. For example, if you are eligible to receive $500 in SSDI benefits and you are eligible to receive SSI, you would receive $500 in SSDI and $210 in SSI ($710 minus $500) each month for a total of $710.
In short, if your SSDI benefits are less than $710 per month, you may receive both SSI and SSDI benefits at once.
How You Apply for Concurrent Benefits
Most claimants are not aware that there are two programs of disability with the Social Security Administration. So how can you be sure to apply for the right one or both? Whether you apply for SSI, SSDI (also called SSD), or both, your local Social Security district office will evaluate your income and assets and determine whether your claim is concurrent. The category of your disability claim (SSI, SSDI, or both) will not make a difference as to how the medical evaluation of the claim is processed. In other words, an SSI claim will be medically reviewed in exactly the same way as an SSDI claim. The same definition of disability and the same disability evaluation process is used for both programs of benefits.
The Benefits of a Concurrent Claim
The benefit to collecting SSI when you are collecting monthly SSDI benefit of less than $710 a month is that the SSI payment will raise your total benefits up to $710 per month.
On the flipside, a benefit to being able to collect SSDI when you are also eligible for SSI is that you may be eligible to receive Medicare health insurance benefits as an SSDI recipient. [Note: There is a two year wait time before Medicare benefits kick in. You must wait two years from when your SSDI eligibility begins to qualify for Medicare benefits.]
In contrast, SSI recipients are eligible to receive Medicaid benefits alone. Although Medicaid does provide payment for more services overall than Medicare, more doctors accept Medicare coverage, so it may be easier to find a Medicare provider.