The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers two types of disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). While both programs supplement the income of individuals who are unable to work due to a medical disability such as blindness, SSDI and SSI serve two distinct populations.
The main difference between SSDI and SSI is eligibility. SSDI is available to those who have "paid into" the system through taxable income. SSI, on the other hand, serves as a safety net for those who do not qualify for SSDI and have limited means. In other words, SSDI is intended for individuals who used to work but can no longer do so due to a physical or mental impairment, while SSI assists low-income individuals who have not worked enough to earn the credits necessary to quality for SSDI.
The following information will give you a general idea of the differences between SSDI and SSI benefits for disabled workers. Please refer to FindLaw's main Social Security Disability Benefits page for more articles and resources pertaining to SSA-administered disability benefits.
SSDI at a Glance
SSI at a Glance
SSI Eligibility Requirements
Unlike SSDI, SSI is not based on an individual's work history. Instead, it's based solely on an individual's financial need. For individuals to qualify for SSI, they need to meet general income requirements. The SSA determines an applicant's income by calculating his or her resources, such as cash or property. An applicant with more resources is less likely to qualify for SSI, while an applicant with fewer resources is more likely to qualify for SSI. Important SSI factors include:
For more information on determining whether an applicant falls below the SSI income threshold, please see the following articles: Understanding Supplemental Security Income: SSI Income and Supplemental Security Income: SSI Resources.
Should You Apply for SSDI or SSI Benefits? Get Help From an Attorney Today
The Social Security Administration's rules and regulations are more complicated than those of nearly any other administrative agency in the country. Simply determining the form of Social Security assistance you qualify for can be a daunting task. If you find yourself uncertain about your eligibility for SSI or SSDI, a good first step is to speak with a Social Security disability benefits attorney in your neck of the woods.
Contact a qualified social security lawyer to assist in your social security disability matter.