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Understanding the difference between SSI and SSDI

On Behalf of | Jul 6, 2023 | Social Security Disability

The complexity of government assistance programs often leads to confusion. It is important to understand the differences between programs, particularly when considering Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance. Although both programs provide financial assistance to people with disabilities, they are not the same.

Knowing the difference between SSI and SSDI can better ensure that you or your loved ones apply for the right program.

Distinguishing SSI

SSI is a need-based program. It provides financial assistance to people with limited income and resources who are either elderly, blind or disabled. The Federal government funds SSI through general tax revenues, not Social Security taxes.

Your work history does not determine eligibility for SSI. The key factors are your income, resources and disability status. The amount of assistance you receive will depend on your financial need.

Understanding SSDI

On the other hand, SSDI is an insurance program. The Social Security taxes you have paid during your working years fund SSDI. If you become disabled and can no longer work, SSDI provides you with income.

Your work history and the Social Security taxes you have paid determine your eligibility for SSDI. The government bases the amount of assistance you receive on your past earnings, not your current financial need.

Comparing eligibility requirements

Both SSI and SSDI require that you have a disability and cannot work. However, SSDI requires that you have earned enough work credits, while SSI requires that you have limited income and resources.

To qualify for SSDI, you must have earned 40 credits, with you earning at least 20 of those in the last 10 years before your disability began. Regardless of how much money you make, you can only earn four credits per year. In 2023, the amount you must make from your employment to get one credit is $1,640.

Reviewing benefits

SSI and SSDI recipients receive monthly benefits. The amount varies based on different factors. SSI recipients might also qualify for Medicaid, and SSDI recipients qualify for Medicare after 24 months.

Clarifying concurrent benefits

In some cases, you can receive benefits from both SSI and SSDI at the same time. This usually happens if you qualify for SSDI but receive low monthly benefits due to a limited work history.

Understanding these differences can guide you in the right direction when seeking financial assistance due to disability. Remember, knowledge is power when navigating the world of government assistance programs.


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