SSDI Benefits and SSI Benefits: What Is The Difference?

The Social Security Administration is responsible for overseeing two disability benefits programs, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Although both programs provide benefits for individuals with disabilities, they are distinct programs with differing qualifications.

Qualifications for SSDI Benefits

Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are available for workers who have accrued a certain numbers of credits based on work history. SSDI benefits are available to blind or disabled workers, adults disabled since childhood (whose eligibility is based upon a parent’s work history) and widows/widowers (who are disabled and meet other qualifications). 

To receive SSDI benefits, a disabled worker must have worked for a specific period of time. The benefits available depend upon an individual’s work history (including the individual’s lifetime earnings before developing a disability) and the severity of the disability.

Qualifications for SSI Benefits

In contrast, Supplemental Security Insurance benefits are available to those with demonstrated financial need who are 65 or older, blind or have a disability. To determine whether an individual is eligible for SSI benefits, the Social Security Administration will consider an individual’s income and assets (such as real estate, bank accounts, stocks and bonds). The income limits vary from state to state, and the Social Security Administration does not consider all income when determining eligibility for SSI benefits.

The basic SSI benefits available from the federal government are uniform throughout the country. However, some states offer people who qualify for SSI benefits additional funds. In some cases, the benefits may be decreased by an individual’s countable income and resources.

In some cases, an individual may qualify for both SSDI benefits and SSI benefits, while others may only be eligible for one of these programs. For more information about these benefits programs, speak with a knowledgeable disability benefits attorney.

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