There Is a World of Difference Between SSI and SSDI Benefits

If you become disabled you may qualify for Social Security benefits. There are two types of disability benefits available from the Social Security Administration:

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Although both of these federal programs provide money to those who meet the federal government’s definition of “disabled,” they are very different benefits. SSI benefits are based solely on financial need, whereas SSDI eligibility is dependent not only on proving a disability but also requires that the claimant has “paid into the system.” 

SSDI Benefits

The Facts About SSI

  • SSI is designed to meet the needs of the elderly, blind and the disabled who wouldn’t be able to pay for the basics, such as food and shelter, without such assistance.
  • There are very strict financial requirements that must be met in order to be eligible for SSI, thus it is referred to as a “means-tested” benefit.
  • General tax revenues pay for SSI benefits.
  • A person’s prior work history is not a consideration for eligibility.
  • Monthly payments are based on the individual’s income and resources, up to a federal maximum.

The Facts About SSDI

  • SSDI benefits are available to disabled or blind workers, their children, widows and widowers and adults who have been disabled since childhood.
  • SSDI is an “entitlement program” in that it is available to those who have paid into the Social Security system through taxable income for at least 20 quarters in the last 10 years, regardless of current income and assets.
  • SSDI is funded through payroll taxes.
  • Monthly payments are based on the individual’s Social Security earnings record.

The initial approval rate for SSDI applications is very low, making it imperative for those who have been denied to enlist the help of an attorney who is experienced and knowledgeable about the system and can help ensure a successful appeal.  If you would like to speak with an attorney about your legal options, please call 213-739-7000 or click here.


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