Because Experience Matters Contact Us

How Are SSDI And SSI Different?

Cutter Hall Karlock, LLC June 26, 2021

Suffering from a disability is difficult enough on its own, but navigating American governmental bureaucracy can be even more difficult. The application process for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) is confusing, but many people wonder if they would be better off applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

While the Social Security Administration manages both of these programs, they serve different populations. According to Special Needs Answers, SSDI is an entitlement program while SSI is a means-tested program. While it is possible for somebody to be eligible for both, it is not common.

The difference between SSI and SSDI

SSI is for individuals who live with a disability and have for some time: many of the people who receive SSI have not been able to work for most of their lives. Because of this, there are very strict “means tests” that recipients must pass. Essentially, in order for the government to give an individual SSI, the individual must prove that their income is very, very low.

SSDI, on the other hand, relies on work credits. Most people on SSDI have worked for the majority of their lives, but are now too disabled to work regularly, if at all. Usually, individuals must pay into the Social Security fund for at least 10 years to have eligibility for SSDI.

Can I get both?

It is possible for an individual to have eligibility for both SSI and SSDI, but this is not common. Because the income threshold is so low for individuals on SSI, it is possible that the average SSDI payment would render the individual ineligible for SSI. But, if your SSDI payments are very low, it is possible the government will permit you access to both.