The Difference Between Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

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Since applying for Social Security disability benefits can be a difficult process, a disability attorney or advocate may increase your chances of being awarded benefits by helping accurately and favorably complete the complex paperwork, ensuring that all deadlines are met, and providing you with representation at a hearing. After submitting our web form, you will receive a 100% FREE evaluation of your disability claim. Disability attorneys and advocates receive compensation if you are awarded back benefits. We have no affiliation with the Social Security Administration, the agency at which you can apply for Social Security disability at no cost.

The Social Security Administration operates two disability benefits programs. When you apply for disability, you have to be aware of the difference between Social Security Disability Insurance(SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income(SSI). SSDI requires a certain amount of work credits while SSI is based off financial needs.

Having the initials of these plans only a letter apart virtually guarantees confusion among those who may not be aware that they are two different disability programs. Yet that one letter is extremely important since there is actually a big difference between the two disability benefit packages.What is the Difference Between SSI and SSDI?

What is the Difference Between SSI and SSDI?

The difference between SSI and SSDI is SSI is based on income limitations while SSDI is based on the number of work credits you've obtained. To qualify for SSDI, you must have a specific number of work credits based on your age. To qualify for SSI, you must be within specific income limits set by the SSA. 

In most states, individuals on SSI will automatically qualify for Medicaid, whereas someone on SSDI will automatically qualify for Medicare after 2 years of receiving SSDI benefits.

What is SSDI?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) It allows workers who become disabled to receive their Social Security retirement benefits early. In order for you to apply for SSDI, you need to have enough work credits based on taxable employment to be covered for Social Security purposes.

Since SSDI is based on FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) taxes you paid throughout your working career, it entirely disregards how much money you have or do not have.


If you became disabled before you reach the age of 24, you need to have at least 6 work credits to qualify for SSDI and 12 credits if your age is between 24 and 31. If you are over 31, you need to have earned 20 work credits in the past 10 years before you became disabled to be eligible for SSDI.

To file for SSDI disability benefits, you must either be a blind or disabled worker, an adult who has been disabled since childhood, or otherwise eligible to apply according to SSA's rules. The amount of your monthly disability benefits will be based on your Social Security income record.

SSDI and SSI differ how you can qualify for each type of Social Security disability benefits.

What is SSI?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI): benefits are awarded on the basis of financial need to adults and children who are disabled, blind, or have limited income and resources. When you file an SSI disability claims, make sure you can show the case reviewer that you have very few financial resources or assets and a low income.

Eligibility Requirements for SSDI and SSI

The SSI disability program has different eligibility requirements than Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). To be entitled to SSI benefits, you must be a U.S. citizen who meets the requirements set by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

to qualify for SSI benefits you need to present medical evidence that your disability will last for at least one year. Your total countable income should also be below listed Supplemental Security Income levels. The SSI amount differs from state to state.

In both SSDI and SSI cases, a claimant's medical records will be checked periodically to be sure the individual is still disabled.

The Social Security Administration will review your condition every 3 to 7 years, depending on your disability’s nature. Once you’re awarded SSI disability benefits, your financial records will be reviewed every year.

What is the Difference between SSI and SSDI

The main difference is that the evaluation of SSI is based on age / impairment and restricted income and assets, while the determination of SSDI is based on impairment and job credits. The financial policies are the main difference. Furthermore, a recipient of SSI should automatically apply for Medicaid in most cases. After 2 years of obtaining disability benefits, a person with SSDI will automatically qualify for Medicare.Eligibility Requirements for SSDI and SSI

Disabled Adult Child (DAC)

If a parent becomes deceased or starts collecting retirement or disability insurance, a person who is disabled before age 22 may be eligible for "child's" insurance. Social Security considers this to be child benefit as it is charged on the earnings record of a parent's social security.

  • Applicants must meet the disability requirements deemed by the SSA and must be unmarried
  • Since benefits are paid on the basis of the parent's earnings record, the adult child may never have worked
  • A disabled adult child that is already receiving SSI benefits might need to search to see whether payments will be paid on a parent's income record. Circumstances may have changed after the original application (for example: death of a parent, retirement or disability status). Higher benefits could be payable, and Medicare eligibility could be possible
  • • SSDI DAC benefits should continue as long as the person stays disabled

Can You Collect Both SSDI and SSI?

In order to be eligible to collect under both programs, not only must the person be considered disabled according to the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) definition of disability, but also his or her income and resources must be limited even after collecting the SSDI benefits.

In order to be eligible for both SSI and SSDI, the person must not only be deemed disabled according to the concept of disability of the Social Security Administration ( SSA), but also his or her income and resources must be limited even after the SSDI benefits have been received.Can You Collect Both SSDI and SSI?

How to Apply

And when you are an adult with a impairment, can you register for SSI online. SSI services are not available online for people caring for children under the age of 18 with a disability or a individual age 65 + who is not disabled. Such individuals may visit the local Office of Social Security or call by 7 a.m. 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). – 7 p.m., Friday to Monday.

Other Facts You Should Know

When you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, you should be screened for both SSDI disability and SSI. If you are awarded SSDI benefits of an amount less than a thousand dollars per month, it would be wise to consult with a representative to check if you may qualify for SSI as well.

When you make a disability claim for SSI, you may also be required by the Social Security Administration to provide financial records which include bank statements, mortgage and lease agreements, savings and other financial data that will let them assess your financial status.

You can seek the help of a Social Security Disability advocate or lawyer to help make the application process for Social Security Disability benefits or appealing a decision much more manageable.

If you have a question regarding your SSI or SSDI case, you can ask in our forum here.

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