You may be aware that there are two different disability programs that the Social Security Administration runs. These are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
These programs serve the needs of different populations, but it is occasionally possible for an individual to qualify for both. According to the AARP, the Social Security Administration calls receiving both SSDI and SSI “concurrent benefits.”
What is the difference between the programs?
While both SSDI and SSI help people who cannot work due to a disability, the main difference between them is that SSI is needs-based and SSDI is not. What this means is that you may be eligible for SSDI no matter what your current level of income is or what assets you hold. All that matters is your work history.
On the other hand, SSI is for those who have very limited financial resources and very low incomes. SSI is not concerned with work history: it is possible for an individual to receive SSI even if they have never worked a day in their lives.
How can I be eligible for both?
Eligibility for concurrent benefits is rare. In the majority of cases, if an individual is eligible for SSDI they make too much money to be eligible for SSI. The majority of persons who are eligible for concurrent benefits likely have a very short work history or have worked in very low-wage jobs. Essentially, your SSDI payment must be very low for you to have eligibility for SSI.
The major benefit of concurrent benefits is that you have instant access to Medicaid through SSI, whereas through SSDI you may have to wait in order to receive Medicare.