Monthly Update – Social Security

by Jennifer Scherf

Benefits Amounts and Income Thresholds

There are two main programs for people filing for disability.*

SSDI is Social Security Disability Insurance. The amount of benefit you will receive is the same as if you were at full retirement age. Your amount of income from other sources, property or assets has nothing to do with how much you will receive. This benefit will be based on your reported earnings over your working life.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a need-based program. You can receive both SSDI and SSI at the same time, but SSI is a program created to help people who may not qualify for SSDI because they did not pay into the system enough to have their own SSDI benefits. Because it is need-based, the amount of income/property/assets you have determines how much, if any, SSI you receive.

The monthly maximum amount of SSI benefits you can receive for the year 2011 is $674 for an eligible individual and $1,011 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse. This amount can be reduced if you have any other income.

For an individual to qualify for SSI, they must have less than $694 per month in unearned income and $1,433 per month in earned income. For a couple to qualify, they must have less than $1,031 per month in unearned income and $2,107 per month in earned income. Earned income is any money you receive for work you do. Unearned income would be any pension, rent or other benefits you receive. Assets you can liquidate and property are also factored in.

Both benefits require the same finding of disability, and SSI comes with Medicaid benefits immediately while SSDI comes with Medicare after a 25-month waiting period. The amount of time you will get retroactive benefits (back pay) also differs with the two programs. If you have additional questions, please look at our website:

*Widows and spousal benefits are not discussed here but do exist.

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