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Key differences between SSDI and SSI

On Behalf of | Mar 30, 2023 | SSDI

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are both programs that are handled by the Social Security Administration (SSA). They provide financial assistance to individuals with disabilities. While they have similarities, they aren’t exactly the same. 

There are two key differences that you should know if you’re applying for benefits due to a disability

Eligibility requirements

To qualify for SSDI, applicants must have accumulated a sufficient number of work credits through prior employment. Work credits are earned by paying Social Security taxes on earned income. The required number of work credits depends on the applicant’s age at the time of disability. Additionally, applicants must have a qualifying disability, as determined by the SSA, that prevents them from engaging in substantial gainful activity.

SSI is a means-tested program, meaning that applicants must have limited income and resources to qualify. In addition to having a qualifying disability, applicants must demonstrate financial need by meeting specific income and asset thresholds set by the SSA. Unlike SSDI, SSI does not require work credits for eligibility.

Benefit amounts and additional benefits

Benefit amounts for SSDI recipients are determined by the individual’s average lifetime earnings and Social Security taxes paid before becoming disabled. After receiving SSDI benefits for two years, recipients are eligible for Medicare coverage, regardless of age. The maximum monthly payment for SSDI is $3,627 in 2023, but the actual amount someone receives will depend on the calculation of the individual’s average indexed monthly earnings.

SSI benefit amounts are determined by the federal benefit rate, which is adjusted annually for cost-of-living increases. The FBR sets the maximum monthly payment for eligible individuals, but actual benefits may be reduced based on the applicant’s income and living situation. In 2023, the maximum monthly payment for individuals is $914. It increases to $1.371 for couples. Most SSI recipients are also eligible for Medicaid, which provides healthcare coverage for low-income individuals and families.

The process of receiving SSDI or SSI can be complex. Working with someone familiar with the application and appeal process may help to reduce your stress while you try to get the benefits you need.