Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) vs Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

There are two primary disability benefits programs, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both of which are administered by the Social Security Administration. Briefly, SSDI has a work credits requirement before you’re considered whereas SSI is dependent on your financial need.

While these two programs are operated by the SSA, they have several differences that you will want to know if you plan on applying for Social Security disability benefits.

What is SSDI?

Social Security Disability Insurance is the program responsible for providing Social Security retirement benefits early to a worker if they become disabled. Before you can apply for SSDI, you’ll need to fulfill the job credit requirement before you’re considered to receive benefits.

SSDI is funded by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes which you pay continously while working; it’s not dependent on how much money you have or haven’t earned.

You need to have earned 6 work credits before you can qualify for SSDI if you became disabled before the age of 24 and 12 credits if your disability occurred between ages 24 and 31. You need to possess 20 job credits in the past 10 years before your disability if it occurred after age 31 before you’re eligible for SSDI benefits.

Those eligible for SSDI disability benefits include:

  • Disabled workers
  • Blind workers
  • Adults that have been disabled since childhood

There are other circumstances which may allow someone to qualify for SSDI benefits, but for the majority of the time, applicants will need to be in one the previously listed situations. Your monthly disability benefit will be dependent on your Social Security earnings income record.

What is SSI?

Supplemental Security Income is the program responsible for giving benefits to adults and children who are disabled, blind, or possess limited income and resources. However, this program is dependent on the financial need of the applicant. A successful SSI disability claim will be able to provide sufficient evidence that the applicant possesses low income and extremely few financial resources or assets.

Who Can Apply For SSDI and SSI

The Social Security Disability Insurance program uses different criteria to evaluate applicants compared to the Supplemental Security Income program. To qualify for SSI benefits, you need to be a U.S. citizen in addition to meeting the SSA’s criteria for SSI applicants.

You need to have a total earning income that does not exceed the SSI limit; this amount varies by state. The SSA also requires you to provide sufficient medical documentation that proves your disability will last for at least 12 months.

Your medical records will be reviewed every few months by the SSA to verify that the benefit recipient is still disabled, this applies to both SSDI and SSI recipients.

The SSA will evaluate your condition every 3 to 7 years, based on the condition of your disability. Once you begin receiving SSI benefits, your financial earnings record will be evaluated annually.

Important Information

If you plan on applying for Social Security disability benefits, it’s recommended you inquire about eligibility for both, SSDI and SSI benefits programs. For example, if you’re given less than $1000 a month through the SSDI benefits program, you may qualify to receive benefits from the SSI program as well.

When applying for SSI benefits, the SSA may ask you to submit financial records which include bank statements, savings, mortgage and lease agreements, and any other financial information that would help the SSA evaluate your financial status.

It would help immensely if you spoke with a professional Social Security Disability attorney, they can make the difficult and complex SSD benefits application process much smoother for you.