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What is the Difference Between SSDI and SSI?

What is the Difference Between SSDI and SSI?


Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a government-sponsored disability insurance program. If you’ve worked a number of years and have paid into Social Security via FICA taxes, you might be eligible for SSDI in the event that you are ever disabled and unable to work. In order to be eligible, you must be under age 65 and you have to accumulate a certain number of work credits. The amount of your monthly payment will depend upon your accumulated work credits.

If you qualify for SSDI on the basis of medical evidence, your income and assets do not matter. Individuals who continue to receive SSDI for two years will then become eligible for Medicare. If you have a spouse, they may be eligible to receive auxiliary benefits which provide them a monthly payment as well.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is also a disability program available through the Social Security Administration. However, unlike with SSDI, a person does not have to earn work credits in order to qualify for payments. SSI is need-based and determined by income and assets. SSI is often accessed by those who have never been able to work for some reason.

In order to qualify for SSI, the individual must have under 2,000 dollars (3,000 dollars for married couples) in assets and a very limited income. The amount of the monthly payment will depend upon the individual’s other income. Qualifying for SSI will also automatically qualify an individual for Medi-Cal, a government-run health insurance system.

Both programs are run by the Social Security Administration, and the process for proving disability is similar for each. Both programs require medical proof that you are disabled and unable to work, and an appeals process is often involved before benefits begin. The primary difference is your work history; those with enough work credits will qualify for SSDI, while those without work credits will have to apply for SSI and meet guidelines for income and assets.