Difference Between SSDI and SSI


Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income provide benefits for seniors and those living with disabilities. These are the two most common federal programs commissioned by the Social Security Administration. 

The two programs are easily confused because of their similar initials and overlapping interests. Some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits. The significant difference between the two is that SSI determination is based on your age, disability, and limited income and resources, versus SSDI determination based on disability and work credits.

Difference Between SSDI and SSI

Read below about the key distinctions and who is eligible for each program.

SSDI Benefits

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides for individuals that are disabled but have a qualifying work history or qualify through a family member. SSDI started in 1956 when Social Security’s rules changed to allow benefit payments to disabled workers.

Workers and their employers cover the program’s cost through payroll taxes, and the Social Security’s Disability Insurance Trust Fund pays out the benefits. In 2021, the estimated average monthly SSDI benefit is $1,277.

There are no income or resource limits on SSDI as long as you have enough work credits. SSDI members automatically qualify for Medicare 24 months after their benefits begin. Other income will not affect your SSDI benefits, and neither will where you live nor with whom you live. 

Social Security could pay additional benefits to the spouses and children of disabled workers. Adults, who have been disabled since childhood, may qualify for SSDI on a parent’s record even when they have never worked.

SSI Benefits

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides minimal financial assistance to adults and persons with disabilities with minimal income and resources. General taxpayers provide SSI benefit funds, and state and federal guidelines dictate the amounts given. 

SSI provides benefits for those that are age 65 or older. SSI also supports disabled and blind individuals of any age. In 2021, the income limit is $794 a month for an individual and $1,191 a month for a couple filing for SSI jointly. That’s also the maximum federal SSI benefit payment.

The resource limit is $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple. Not all income and assets count because Social Security exempts the value of your home and about half of your earnings from work, among other things.

SSI benefits will vary depending on where you live, who lives with you, and how much money you’re making. That’s why you must report any changes to your income while on SSI. SSI income requirements state that you must have less than $2,000 in assets (or $3,000 for a couple) and a minimal income.

Individuals in most states that receive SSI benefits automatically qualify for Medicaid. Those who are eligible for SSI will also qualify for food stamps, and the amount you will receive is dependent on where you live and the amount of regular, monthly earnings you have. 

SSI and SSDI Similarities

The Social Security Administration typically uses the same medical criteria to determine if a disability entitles an adult to SSDI or SSI relief. Qualifying beneficiaries are permitted to collect both benefits. The Social Security Administration asks for a substantial amount of medical evidence to support disability claims. 

Usually, you’ll apply online for SSDI and in some cases for SSI, but the process included an in-person or phone interview with a Social Security representative. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, most local Social Security offices are closed to walk-in visits, but many Social Security services are available online or by phone. 

Getting a decision generally takes three to five months, according to Social Security officials. Still, the time can vary depending on how long Social Security needs to get medical records and other relevant evidence. Military veterans and people with particular severe medical issues may qualify for expedited processing.

Always keep in mind that the Social Security Administration has a considerable backlog of cases, and the majority of applications for disability benefits get denied. If your application gets rejected, you have the right to appeal this decision, but getting a hearing could take more than a year. 

That’s why it’s imperative to get your filing right the first time. It is natural to have questions about the Social Security process. Give the attorneys at Pisegna And Zimmerman, LLC a call to get answers to your questions about Social Security disability and the SSI benefits claims process.

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