In Focus: The Difference Between SSDI and SSI

If you are injured or suffer an illness and cannot work you may worry about how you will earn a living or pay for your medical expenses. Fortunately, there are two disability benefit programs offered by the Social Security Administration: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This article is a discussion of the difference between these disability benefits.

An Overview of SSDI and SSI

SSDI benefits are similar to retirement benefits in that the benefits are based on your work record. This means that you must’ve paid into the Social Security system and acquired a sufficient number of work credits. Moreover, the number of work credits that are needed depend on your age at the time you became disabled. In other words, the older you are the more work credits you will need.

Additionally, you must have a medical impairment that has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 12 months or result in death. The SSA will also look to whether the disability prevents you from performing the same job or any other type of work.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is available if you are are disabled, blind or older than 65, regardless of whether or not you have worked and paid into the Social Security system. Although there is no work credit requirement, these benefits are means tested. This means that your financial resources are limited, and your income and assets fall below a specific threshold – $2,000 for individuals, and $3,000 for a couple. The calculations for determining these resources is complicated, which makes the advice and guidance of an experienced disability benefits attorney invaluable.

How are SSDI and SSI different

SSDI is only available to those who have paid into the Social Security system. As such the amount of disability benefits that are aware can vary since they are based on your work history and income. You can learn about the SSA guidelines online by setting up a mySocial Security account. If you qualify for SSI, there is no need to have paid into the system. SSI is only available to those of advanced age, however, and the monthly benefits are fixed, currently $733 for individuals and $1,100 for couples.

The Takeaway

Although SSDI and SSI benefits are available for those who are disabled and cannot earn a living, there are strict eligibility requirements, and the majority of initial claims are denied. For this reason, you are well advised to consult with a trustworthy disability benefits attorney.