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What Are The Differences Between SSDI And SSI?

Cutter Hall Karlock, LLC Dec. 16, 2020

It is not uncommon for people to confuse SSDI and SSI. SSDI stands for Social Security Disability Insurance while SSI stands for Supplemental Security Income.

Both of these programs are government-run and make cash payouts to individuals who match the federal government definition of “disabled.” However, the similarities stop there. According to Special Needs Answers, SSI is a “means-tested” program while SSDI is an “entitlement” program.

What is “means-tested” verses “entitlement”?

A means-tested program is for a specific group of people whether or not they have “paid into” the system or not. SSI is for people who are some combination of disabled, blind or elderly and would otherwise not be able to support themselves without the support of SSI. As a result, there are very strict financial requirements in place for persons on SSI as it is for the truly needy. It is also possible to have not worked a single day in one’s life and receive SSI.

On the other hand, SSDI is for individuals who have paid into the Social Security system for at minimum 10 years and have suffered from a disability that removes their ability to work. In comparison to SSI, SSDI is available to any qualified worker, even if he or she is otherwise high-income.

Can I get both SSI and SSDI?

It is possible for an individual to receive payments from SSI and SSDI at the same time, but this is non-standard. Essentially, if the SSDI payments the government gives a person are greater than the maximum SSI payment, it is likely that the individual is ineligible for SSI.