What's the Difference Between SSI and SSDI?


The world is filled with acronyms, and many of them are confusingly similar. Two such confusing acronyms are SSDI and SSI. SSDI is Social Security Disability Insurance, while SSI stands for Supplemental Security Insurance. They are both run by the Social Security Administration (SSA), but are different programs that serve different populations. Let's take a look at the important differences.


Social Security Disability Insurance is income awarded to individuals with long-term disability who are unable to perform gainful work. Part of becoming eligible for SSDI is working for a sufficient amount of time to earn "work credits." The funds for SSDI come from taxes you pay while working during this period.

For the purposes of SSDI, "disability" means you are unable to do the work you were doing before you were hurt. Your medical condition means you cannot adjust to other gainful work, and you are expected to be unable to work for at least a year.


Supplemental Security Insurance is a program that provides income for the elderly (65 or older), blind, or disabled persons with little or no income. This income is meant to cover food, clothing, and shelter. SSI is also available to blind or disabled children up to age 22 (if attending school). The government has established guidelines for individuals under 65 to be considered blind or disabled. 

The money for SSI comes from general tax revenue, not from the tax workers pay into Social Security. It is possible to qualify for both SSI and SSDI at the same time, if your SSDI income is low enough to qualify as limited income or resources under the SSI requirements.

We know that it can be difficult sorting through the various programs and benefits while facing disability. At Dugan & Associates, we have in-depth knowledge of the Social Security claims process and are here to help you get the benefits you deserve. If you have questions, contact us for a free consultation.

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