Supplemental Security Income (SSI) v. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Massachusetts Disability Law Center

The Massachusetts Social Security lawyers at Kantrovitz & Associates have more than 25 years of experience helping workers qualify for needed Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. We are proud to represent disabled individuals in Middlesex County, Essex County, Boston, Norfolk County, Plymouth County, Suffolk County, the Merrimack River Valley area, and other communities across Massachusetts. In addition, we help SSI and SSDI claimants in New Hampshire and Rhode Island win the compensation they deserve.


SSDI provides federal assistance to individuals whose disability or blindness prevents them from engaging in “substantial gainful activity” (SGA), including employment, for at least 12 months. SSI, on the other hand, pays cash benefits to disabled individuals who may not qualify for SSDI based on their earnings—under the state “threshold” amount—but nevertheless require assistance due to limited income. Hallmarks of each program include:

  • SSDI (paid from tax contributions to trust fund)
    • Authorized under Title II of federal Social Security Act
    • Includes Medicare Parts A, B, C, and prescription drug benefits
    • Family may qualify based on spouse’s or parents’ earnings record
    • Monthly benefits based on average earnings minus certain disability benefits
  • SSI (funded by federal government from general tax revenues)
    • Requires demonstration of limited financial resources
    • Authorized by Title XVI of the federal Social Security Act
    • Provides Medicaid covering anyone eligible for federal assistance
    • Payment depends upon Federal Benefit Rate (FBR) for individuals and couples

These programs have distinct criteria to determine eligibility and benefit amounts. However, claimants may be eligible for both SSDI and SSI and therefore receive “concurrent” benefits. While termination of SSDI depends on the claimant’s SGA level upon return to work, continuing SSI eligibility is based on whether claimants continue to have limited resources, measured by subtracting their total “countable” income from the FBR.

State Supplement to SSI Program

Some states offer a supplemental payment in addition to the federal SSI payment. Massachusetts General Law (MGL) c.118A authorizes the Commonwealth to provide a state supplement to SSI. Under MGL c.30A, the state-funded program offers financial aid to SSI recipients or those who do not qualify for SSI under federal income requirements. Eligibility for the program includes:

  • Application for SSI benefits (no separate application)
  • Social Security Administration’s SSI eligibility decision
  • Either qualify for SSI or be ineligible solely based on income
  • Countable income must be less than FBR and state supplement
  • Individual must fall under one or more required SSI categories
    • Age 65 or older, disabled, or blind under federal regulations

The disability requirement for state supplemental eligibility is set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). 20 CFR Part 416 allows Massachusetts’ Department of Transitional Assistance to contract with agencies or organizations to evaluate the applicant’s disability or blindness if the Social Security Administration has not yet made a determination.

Recovering SSI and SSDI Benefits

If you require legal assistance applying for SSI and/or SSDI benefits, contact the Massachusetts disability attorneys of Kantrovitz & Associates today. We work closely with clients to optimize their benefits and seek to recover all the compensation to which they are entitled. At Kantrovitz & Associates, our legal team brings 25 years’ experience to our work in obtaining workers’ compensation and disability benefits under federal and state laws. Call (800) 367-0871 today for a free consultation or contact us online.

Workers’ Compensation