What Is the Difference Between DIB and SSI Claims?

If you’ve become disabled and unable to work, you may not realize there are two types of disability programs available through the Social Security Administration.


The disability programs administered by the Social Security Administration are:

  • Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB or SSDI) and
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Each program has two basic requirements.


  1. You have to be insured or covered. Insurance is the key word. DIB is essentially a long term disability insurance policy you get from the SSA. You are covered or “insured” if you have worked long enough and paid enough Social Security taxes. You have to have enough work credits, which are based on your annual income or wages. You can earn up to four credits per year. In 2015, you earn one credit for each $1,220 you earn, but this changes every year. Generally, you need 40 total credits, but 20 of your credits must be earned in the last 10 years ending when you become disabled. This requirement varies some depending on your age and when you become disabled.
  2. You have to meet the medical disability rules.

It’s important to understand that if you stop working, you obviously stop paying Social Security taxes. When you stop paying Social Security taxes, your coverage for DIB will end. It’s just like car insurance. If you stop paying for your car insurance, eventually your insurance company will cancel your policy. The point is, if you stop working due to a disability, you should consider filing your claim as soon as possible so you do not allow your coverage for DIB to expire.


  1. You have to meet the financial rules. SSI eligibility can be extremely complicated, with many rules and exceptions to the rules. My comments here are limited solely to SSI eligibility through the disability provisions. SSI eligibility has nothing to do with whether you have worked and earned work credits. Instead, you have to show you have very limited income and assets. In other words, you can’t have much income and can’t own many assets. The SSI financial eligibility rules are some of the most complicated and convoluted rules I have ever experienced.
  2. You have to meet the same medical disability rules.

Keep in mind, the disability rules are the same for both programs.

In sum, what are the different requirements for DIB and SSI claims?

For DIB claims, you must:

  • Have worked and “payed in.” In other words, you must be insured or have enough quarters of coverage.
  • Meet the medical disability rules.

For SSI claims must:

  • Have to meet the financial and asset rules and guidelines. To meet the income requirements, you must have limited income and resources.
  • Meet meet the medical disability rules.

Lastly, SSA encourages you to file your disability application through its online website. However, you can’t file SSI claims online. That means, if you wish to file a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim, you will have to file a paper application or you or your attorney will need to arrange a phone conversation with Social Security to go through the SSI process.

Thanks for reading,

Travis Miller helps people throughout West Virginia, including the following cities:

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