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What is the Difference between SSI and SSDI?

On Behalf of | Sep 18, 2014 | Social Security Disability

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Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are both programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that are available to individuals with a qualifying disability.

The list of medical conditions that qualify you for the programs are the same and so it is easy to confuse the two. SSI and SSDI are two separate programs and you may qualify for both.

What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI), sometimes referred to as Title 16 Benefits, is a program that provides a monthly check to those who:

    • Have a qualifying medical condition
    • Have low enough assets


Qualifying for SSI does not depend on your work history or past contributions. It is entirely need based. This program is used mostly for those who have very little or no work history. Your check would be a fixed amount determined by the Social Security Administration.

What is Social Security Disability Insurance?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is also called Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) or less often called Title 2 Benefits. The SSDI program provides a monthly check to those who:

  • Are under 65-years-old
  • Have a qualifying medical condition
  • Have paid into Social Security through their taxes

Receiving benefits from SSDI depends on your work history and past contributions. Your financial need does not play a role in qualifying for SSDI. The amount of your monthly check  will be determined by Social Security.

Can I Receive SSI or SSDI if I’m Receiving Social Security Retirement Benefits?

Under most circumstances you cannot receive both Social Security retirement benefits and Social Security disability benefits.

There are some individual circumstances, especially in cases of early retirement where you may qualify for both. You’ll want to speak to a qualified Social Security attorney to discuss your individual circumstances.

Can I apply for both SSI and SSDI?

Yes, you can apply for both SSI and SSDI. If you qualify for SSDI, you must apply for it first and receive all available SSDI benefits before qualifying for SSI. If you still have a qualifying financial need after receiving SSDI benefits you may be eligible for SSI.

Which should I apply for?

In general if you have a long work-history and comfortable financial means you should apply for SSDI, while if you have a limited work history and limited financial means you should apply for SSI.

Individual circumstances, however, can be complex.  And the best thing you can do to make the most informed decision on SSI and SSDI is to consult with an attorney. The Packard Law Firm is committed to helping individuals who are looking at Social Security options make the best decision for them and their families. Reach out to us today.

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