What Is the Difference between SSDI and SSI?

SSA logo

The Social Security Administration (SSA) only offers two main types of benefits: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance. Both of these programs offer cash benefits for disabled individuals. The key difference lies in the applicant’s work history and money earned. SSDI is available for those who have worked and accumulated a certain amount of credit. SSI, funded by general fund taxes, provides need-based benefits that are suited for those who have never worked or who have not worked long enough to earn enough credits to qualify for SSDI. Both type of benefits were created under the Social Security disability umbrella to offer everyone a chance for financial security in the case of a debilitating accident or injury. But these benefits are not the same, and are considered separate government programs.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

As stated above, this program was created for those individuals who have not had the same work history as others. It focuses on the assets that you have. Assets include resources that you own that are regarded as having cash value. For example, the SSA considers the following as assets:

  • Bank accounts
  • Investments (stocks bonds, etc.)
  • Life insurance policies (above $1,500)
  • Real estate (not including the land you live on)
  • Vehicles (in addition to your highest-valued vehicle)
  • Any other property item that can be sold for cash that excludes common household items and personal effects (such as a wedding ring)

If you are single, you are only eligible for this if the above-listed assets combined are less than $2,000. If you are married, the limit is $3,000. If those assets combined are worth more than the two or three thousand dollar limit, then you will be considered able to provide for yourself and will not qualify. Most applicants who are eligible for SSI can also be eligible for other benefits including food stamps and Medicaid. SSI benefits will be determined based on the state you live in, your living arrangements, and your income.

 Social Security Disability Insurance

SSDI focuses on how much money you have made throughout your life up to this point. Having paid Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes throughout your working career, you are eligible to make this money back through the SSDI program. These taxes are designed to help those who are forced to retire or quit work early due to a disability. The application process for SSDI is much more complex than the application for SSI. You must be over the age of 18 and under 65 and have received enough “work credits” in order to qualify, which take into account the age at which you were disabled and the amount of time you worked up to that point. After your application has been accepted, you must undergo a five month waiting period before you will be begin to receive the benefits. Eligibility for SSDI depends on your age, the time you have worked and the amount of money you have earned prior to your disability.

Hiring an Attorney

Because the application process and the requirements for receiving SSDI benefits can be confusing and potentially overwhelming, you may want to consider seeking the counsel of an attorney to help you prepare your application. Call us today at (801) 890-1030 for a free consultation.