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What is the difference between SSDI and SSI?


Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are the disability programs managed by the Social Security Administration (SSA). While there are many differences between SSDI and SSI, three of the biggest differences are explained below.

1. Eligibility Requirements

One of the main differences between SSDI and SSI are the eligibility requirements. SSDI is the disability program that is only available to workers who become disabled while insured for benefits. To become insured, a worker must work and pay into the Social Security system long enough to earn sufficient work credits for coverage. Once you earn enough work credits, you remain insured for benefits for a period of time even after you stop working. To receive SSDI benefits, you must show that you became disabled during the period of time you were insured for benefits. SSI, on the other hand, is a need-based program. This benefit is only available to people who are disabled or blind and have limited income and/or resources. Unlike SSDI, eligibility for this benefit is not based on your work history. Therefore, you may be eligible for this benefit even if you have not worked long enough to be insured SSDI. Because SSI is based on financial need, your eligibility may change over time as your financial situation changes.

2. Benefit Amounts

The second major difference between SSDI and SSI are the monthly benefit amounts. The amount of your monthly SSDI benefit is based on your wages and contributions to the Social Security fund before you stopped working and/or became disabled. SSI benefits, however, are based on the federal maximum that varies each year. In 2019, the maximum SSI benefit is $771 per month, though your actual monthly benefit may be lower depending on your financial situation.

3. Health Care/Medicare Eligibility

The third key difference between SSDI and SSI are the health care benefits available with each program. After two years (i.e., 24 months) of benefits, SSDI beneficiaries become eligible for Medicare disabled. While SSI does not come with Medicare coverage, SSI recipients are automatically eligible for Medicaid.

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