What’s the Difference Between Social Security and SSI?

Title II

To be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) you must have worked and paid Social Security taxes for 20 quarters (5 years) out of the past 40 quarters (10 years) and have earned a minimum amount per “quarter.” The minimum earnings amount varies, the amount of earnings for a quarter of coverage in 2015 is $1,220.

Benefits range from a minimum of $1.00 per month to a maximum that is dependent upon how much, and for how long, a person has paid into the system.
Children and a spouse of a disabled worker can receive an additional monthly benefits but not Medicare coverage.

Medicare coverage that comes with comes with Disability Insurance Benefits. You get the Medicare card 24 months after disability payments begin.


Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are at heart a welfare system for indigent people. SSI benefits are paid to disabled people who have never worked, or haven’t worked enough to have earned the necessary “quarters” to qualify for disability Social Security. These benefits can also be paid to a person who has not worked in the past five years as of the alleged date of onset of disability. Eligibility also has an asset limit of $2000, or $3000 for a couple.

Sometime SOcial Security disability recipients whose monthly benefits are less than the SSI payment are also eligible to receive SSI payments. Then the payment is supplemented up to the SSI maximum.

There is no benefit for Dependents of an SSI recipient. Medicaid coverage comes with SSI benefits and begins the same month that SSI benefits begin.