This is the single most asked question that I get from clients.  People often do not know that the Social Security Administration offers different programs for disabled persons, based on what you paid into the system and your asset/income levels.  That is really the difference in a nutshell.  When you meet with our firm, we will take a careful look at your case and both benefits to determine which you may qualify for and which you should pursue.

Essentially, Social Security Disability (often called Title II benefits) are benefits for those who have paid into the system over a sufficient and recent enough period of time.  It is a form of insurance for those who are employed and contributing to the Social Security system.  Generally speaking, if you have worked at least five out of the last ten years, you are probably “insured”.  Under this benefit, a disabled person’s spouse and children may also collect dependent benefits in most situations.

The other benefit is known as the Supplemental Security Income (or Title 16) benefits.  This benefit has no requirements concerning work history.  You do not have to have ever worked or paid a dime into the Social Security system to qualify for this benefit.  However, you must have very limited income and assets to qualify for this benefit.  It is a form of welfare benefits for the permanently disabled. 

There are a myriad of important differences between these two benefits, but now that the basics have been covered, we can discuss a few of the additional, most important differences.

  1.  The benefit amounts for each system are very different.  Your benefit rate for Social Security Disability (SSD) is based upon what you paid into the system.  You can call the SSA at 800-772-1213 and request information concerning your rate of pay or visit their website at to create an account and track your rate of pay that way. For Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients, the rate of pay is a set amount of $733.00 per individual or $1100.00 per eligible couple.  To this amount, the state supplement is added.  Note:  These amounts are examples, generally speaking.  If you are blind or receive some form of income or assistance, these amounts can be different).