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What’s the difference between Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income? It’s a question our disability lawyers get a lot, and it’s easy to see why. Both SSDI and SSI help individuals get the financial help they need in certain circumstances. However, when it comes to applying for and receiving monthly benefits, SSDI and SSI can be very different. Below, we’ll get into the details of Social Security Disability Insurance VS Supplemental Security Income.

What Is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

SSDI is a federal program that provides for the needs of long-term disabled persons who have a previous work history. SSDI benefits are administered by Social Security, thus the name SSDI. As you have worked throughout your life, you have paid Social Security taxes through your income. Part of this tax, called F.I.C.A. on paystubs, contributes to SSDI.

What Is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

SSI is a federal benefits program that gives financial support to disabled individuals who also lack income and resources. People who meet a certain threshold of wealth cannot receive SSI payments and are ineligible for Medicaid.

Am I Eligible for SSI or SSDI?

Even with these explanations, it can be difficult to know which program is right for you. It’s common for SSDI and SSI applications to be denied. However, applying to the wrong program for your needs is the most guaranteed way for your claim to be denied. Before applying to either SSDI or SSI at your local Social Security office, carefully consider your eligibility. Better yet, hire a trusted SSDI or SSI attorney to help with your case.

Social Security Disability Insurance Eligibility

When it comes down to it, SSDI has fewer requirements for benefits than SSI. Below are 2 qualifiers for SSDI:

  • Be found disabled by Social Security
  • Sufficient Social Security work credits

As you might expect, these two qualifiers sound simple, but can actually be quite complex.

Be Found Disabled By Social Security

Being found disabled by Social Security is determined by a physician answering a particular set of questions about your condition and your ability to work. Unless you have a specific disability like blindness or a certain situation like a child with disabilities, the Social Security Administration (SSA) must acknowledge that your disability impairs your ability to work in several ways:

  1. If you’re working and earning more than $1,350/month.
  2. Your condition keeps you from doing basic work-related tasks, like lifting objects or walking.
  3. This hindrance to your work will last at least 12 months.
  4. Your physical disability prevents you from doing the work you did previously.
  5. The severity of your disability prevents you from doing work at all, whether you have done it previously or not.

Social Security Work Credits

If you’ve worked for the past 10 years or more, you generally do not need to worry about having enough work credits to qualify for Social Security disability. However, if you have not, there are some things you should consider:

  1. What qualifies as a work credit varies yearly.
  2. You can only earn up to 4 credits every year.
  3. Younger workers can qualify with fewer credits.
  4. The average worker will need 40 credits to qualify.
  5. At least 20 work credits must be from the 10 years preceding your disability.

Supplemental Security Income Eligibility

Supplemental Security Income has specific rules for eligibility. These qualifications can be rather complex. Here is a list of the most basic qualifications for the average SSI recipient:

  • One of the following: 65 years old or older, blind, and disabled
  • Limited income or resources


Three things can count towards your disability in SSI: your age, blindness, or physical or mental disability. Age is simple; as long as you’re 65, you meet this qualification. Likewise, if you’re blind, you need only show proof of your medical condition to receive disability benefits.

However, mental and physical disabilities can be harder to prove. First of all, your disability must prevent you from doing work, or as the SSA says, “substantial gainful activity.” All work, either previously done or not, must be shown to be prevented because of your disability.

Secondly, your disability must be a life-long condition or one that is expected to result in death. Finally, the disability must have lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months. It’s important to note that the way disability is judged for adults and for minors is different.

Limited Income or Resources

SSI is reserved for those who lack essential resources and cannot provide those resources for themselves. That is why income and resources are examined in the application process. Some of the income or resource streams that will be evaluated are:

  • Money earned from work
  • Money received from non-work
    • This can include other federal programs, workers’ compensation, or even money from friends and family.
  • Resources (like food and shelter) given for free

Because wealth can be difficult to quantify exactly, the SSA describes what kind of wealth they will examine when you apply for SSI:

  1. Cash
  2. Bank accounts
  3. Property, including physical assets
  4. Life insurance
  5. Investments like stocks and bonds
  6. Anything that can be turned into cash

For income, it’s important to keep in mind that any amount you have will reduce the total monthly benefits payment. Additionally, with resources (not income), the total sum cannot exceed $2,000 for individuals or $3,000 for couples.

There are always small legal rules that can affect your eligibility for either SSI or SSDI. In order to know with certainty that you’re eligible, consider hiring a Social Security lawyer at Wettermark Keith.

Can I Receive Both SSDI & SSI Benefits?

In short, yes; you can receive both SSDI and SSI benefits! Keep in mind, however, that any payments you receive from SSDI will reduce your SSI payments. Additionally, qualifying for just one of these programs is difficult, let alone both programs at once. If you’re considering applying for both SSDI and SSI, consult a trusted disability benefits lawyer.

Wettermark Keith Social Security & Supplemental Security Lawyers

Our team’s experience in changing lives through disability SSDI and SSI benefits and appeals shows that they’re ready to take on your case. From knowing whether SSDI or SSI is right for you to know which you’re eligible to receive, a Wettermark Keith expert lawyer can help. Contact us today to get started with a free case consultation.


What is the social security act?

In simple terms, the social security act was created to provide for the general welfare by establishing a system of Federal old-age benefits.

Which pays more SSDI or SSI?

 Based on data from 2020 The average SSDI payment was $1,258 per month while the average SSI payment is $575 per month.

What are the 3 main types of Social Security benefits?

Disability, Retirement, Dependents, and Survivors. 

Can you get SSI and SSDI at the same time?

Yes. Many people are eligible for benefits under both the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) programs at the same time.

What is SSDI income?

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are programs that provide assistance to individuals with disabilities.

For disability social security compensation benefits information see also:

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