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How does SSDI differ from SSI?

On Behalf of | Jul 11, 2024 | Social Security Disability |

When considering financial support due to disability, it’s essential to understand the differences between Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both programs aim to help individuals with disabilities, but they operate differently and have distinct eligibility requirements.

SSDI: Based on work history

SSDI benefits individuals who have paid into the Social Security system through payroll taxes. To qualify for SSDI, you must have a sufficient work history and meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability. SSDI considers your work credits, typically requiring at least ten years of work, with five of those years within the last decade.

SSI: Need-based support

SSI provides financial assistance based on financial need rather than work history. This program supports individuals with disabilities who have limited income and resources. SSI eligibility requires meeting specific income and asset thresholds. It also provides benefits to children with disabilities and older adults with limited means.

Benefit amounts and healthcare coverage

SSDI benefit amounts depend on your earnings record, offering higher payments if you have a strong work history. In contrast, federal and sometimes state supplements standardize SSI payments, determining the monthly amount. 

Combining SSDI and SSI

In some cases, individuals may qualify for both SSDI and SSI benefits. If your SSDI benefits are low, SSI can supplement your income to reach the federal benefit rate. This combined support helps individuals maintain a better standard of living.

Understanding your options

Understanding the differences between SSDI and SSI can help you navigate your options and determine which program best suits your needs. Evaluating your needs can guide you in making informed decisions about seeking disability benefits.