Q: What is the difference between Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income?
The Social Security Disability program is much like an insurance policy. There are specific requirements that you must meet to qualify. You must have contributed to the program over a sufficient period of time (i.e.: paid deductions for Social Security) and contributed recently enough to have “disability insured status.”
Contributions are counted as “quarters of coverage”. Generally, you must have worked five of the last ten years to meet the insurance requirements under the act. This program is not income based, in other words, you could be Bill Gates and collect benefits.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal welfare program. There are asset and income limitations for eligibility. If all requirements are met, SSI benefits will be paid from the date of application. If you have too many assets or too much income, you will be disqualified from this program.