When thinking of all the different programs available through Social Security, it can be easy to confuse one for another. One of the more common instances of this disconnect for individuals is between Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Here, the disability advocates at Disability Associates help break down the difference between SSDI and SSI.

SSDI and SSI Have Different Eligibility Requirements

While both SSDI and SSI are overseen and managed by the Social Security Administration (SSA), there are significant differences between the two. The most crucial thing to understand about the difference between them is that SSDI recipients as considered “insured” because they have spent enough time working in the United States and therefore have contributed enough taxes to the Social Security program. Individuals who pay Social Security taxes earn work credits, and SSDI is a program that requires these work credits for eligibility. For more information on work credits and SSDI, read our article, “How Social Security Disability Insurance Works.”

Unlike SSDI, SSI is commonly known as a “means-tested” government program, meaning that the program has nothing to do with work history. Recipients of SSI benefits are those that are in need of financial assistance due to limited resources and income. Previous employment—and therefore work credits—do not play a role in qualifying for SSI.

Financial Benefits are Significantly Less for SSI Recipients

The amount that SSDI recipients can expect to receive on a monthly basis is based on accumulated work credits. On average, SSDI pays its beneficiaries roughly $1,200 per month, with a maximum monthly benefit of $2,788 in 2018.

SSI benefits, on the other hand, are typically less than SSDI. The SSA recently announced maximum federal payouts for 2019, which are:

  • $9,259.67, or $771 per month, for an eligible individual,
  • $13,887.97, or $ 1,157 per month, for an eligible couple and
  • $4,640.45, or $386 per month, for an essential person.

To qualify as an eligible couple, both applicants must be eligible as individuals based on resources and assets, be legally married and live in the same household. Only a select few individuals qualify as essential persons. These are individuals who are deemed essential to the basic care of the SSI beneficiary and have been considered essential since the SSI program was grandfathered in from the states by the federal government in January of 1974.

Additional Medical Benefits are Different Under Each Program

For the majority of individuals, receiving SSI will automatically qualify them for Medicaid. This is because Medicaid is a joint state and federal health care program, and those individuals who are in need of financial assistance due to income and resources are commonly also in need of health care.

SSDI beneficiaries, on the other hand, are eligible for Medicare two years after being deemed eligible for SSDI. While Medicare is not as comprehensive as Medicaid, is does cover routine hospital care and most general health care. You can click here for more information about the key differences between Medicaid and Medicare.

An Experienced Attorney Can Help with SSDI or SSI Claims

If you are considering filing for either SSDI or SSI, you have the right to retain an experienced attorney that will help ensure you receive the benefits to which you are entitled. At Disability Associates, we exclusively handle Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income cases. If you are dealing with a claim for the first time, or even exploring the option of an appeal, we can be of assistance. Contact us today for more information about how we can help.