The Social Security Administration offers two different programs to provide financial assistance to people who suffer from a notable disability or illness. Social Security Disability Insurance pays monthly benefits to those who qualify as insured under the program guidelines. Supplemental Security Income provides benefits to disabled adults and children who fall below certain income limits. SSDI is for people under 65. There's no maximum age for SSI benefits.
Social Security disability benefits continue until you're able to work again. Depending on your disability, the benefits may be awarded on a temporary or permanent basis. SSDI is only available to people who worked and paid into Social Security. You'll typically need to have earned a minimum of 20 Social Security work credits in the last 10 years before becoming disabled. In 2015, you'll need to earn $1,220 to receive one Social Security work credit. If you're under 31, you'll need to have worked at least half-time since turning 21. For example, if you're 27, you'll need to have worked a minimum of three out of the past six years. The amount you receive is based on the credits you've earned.
SSI is a needs-based program for people with low income and few assets. There is no minimum age requirement to receive SSI. Even children with certain disabilities are eligible for SSI if the household meets the income and asset requirements. Low-income adults over 65 without disabilities are also eligible for SSI. If you haven't worked or don't have enough credits to qualify for SSDI, you may qualify for SSI. As of 2015, the income limit is $8,804.43 for an individual and $13,205.18 for a couple. You can't have more than $2,000 in assets for an individual or $3,000 for a couple. Countable assets include cash, bank accounts, vehicles and personal property. The maximum SSI payment is $733 for an eligible individual and $1,100 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse.
SSDI at Retirement Age
If you're receiving SSDI benefits when you reach full retirement age, your benefits are automatically converted to retirement benefits. As of 2015, full retirement age is 67 if you were born after 1960. The amount you receive doesn't change because disability benefits were calculated based on what you would receive at retirement age. However, you may see an increase if Social Security provides a cost of living increase.
SSI At Retirement Age
Since SSI is for people who have not accrued enough credit to qualify for Social Security benefits, the benefits won't change when the recipient reaches retirement age. You can continue to receive SSI as long as you meet the eligibility criteria. SSI has strict asset and income limits, therefore even a minor change could render you ineligible for SSI.
- Social Security Disability Help: Do Social Security Disability Benefits Switch to Retirement Benefits When You Turn 65?
- Social Security Administration: Entry into and Exit from the Disability Programs
- Social Security: SSI Federal Payment Amounts for 2015
- Nolo: Getting Social Security Disability Benefits After Age 60
- Social Security Administration: Full Retirement Age if You Were Born 1960 or Later
- Social Security Administration: Apply for Disability Benefits - Child (Under Age 18)