SSDI and SSI: Eligibility Differences

The Social Security Administration oversees two different programs that provide benefits based on disability: The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. While they both provide financial benefits to disabled citizens, their eligibility requirements are different.

Understanding the differences between SSDI and SSI is necessary to ensure applicants apply for benefits under the correct program, thus increasing their chances of approval.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

SSDI provides benefits to workers who become disabled. As a U.S. worker, you have contributed to the SSDI program through payroll taxes. Eligibility is based on:

  • Years worked. You must have a certain number of work credits (i.e. years of contributions) in order to be eligible for benefits.
  • Age. You must be over 18 but under 65 years of age in order to qualify for SSDI.

Other facts:

  • Under the SSDI program, a disabled person’s spouse and dependent children can receive partial benefits.
  • If you receive SSDI benefits for more than two years, you will become eligible for Medicare.
  • Benefits are based on the “worker’s lifetime average earnings”, similar to the Social Security retirement benefit, but may be reduced if you are also receiving worker’s compensation payments or other public disability benefits.
  • Outside income or resources do not affect the benefit amount.
  • There is a five-month waiting period for benefits; you won’t receive benefits for the first five months after you become disabled.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

In contrast to SSDI, the SSI program is needs-based, according to income and financial need. It is not funded through payroll taxes or the Social Security fund, but rather through general fund taxes. Benefits are available to low-income individuals who have either never worked or who haven’t earned enough work credits to qualify for SSDI. To qualify for SSDI you must:

  • Meet Social Security’s disability criteria.
  • Have limited income and resources.
  • Have less than $2,000 ($3,000 for a couple) in assets.

Other facts:

  • SSI is available to people of all ages, including children.
  • Qualified individuals receive Medicaid in their residence state.
  • Most qualified individuals will also qualify for food stamps.
  • Benefits begin on the first of the month when an application is submitted.

A Social Security Attorney Can Help You Secure Benefits

In general, it is more common for SSDI applications to be approved than SSI applications, but approval is never guaranteed and the application process is never easy. Our Social Security attorney can help you navigate the SSDI or SSI process, ensure your application is complete and accurate, and follow up on your application status so you can focus on other ways to make it through this challenging time in your life.

With many denials coming down to technicalities, it is extremely helpful to have a qualified set of eyes take a second look at your application or to have an attorney advocate on your behalf or appeal a decision. No matter where you are in the SSDI or SSI application process, The Beregovich Law Firm can help you secure the best possible outcome.

Contact us at (800) 631-9009 or email us to discuss your situation.