What is the Difference between SSI and SSDI?

social security word cloudSupplemental 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. So it’s easy to confuse the two programs, but they are two separate programs, and you may qualify for both.

What is SSI?

The SSI program provides a monthly check to those who:

  • Have a qualifying medical condition
  • Have a low enough income
  • Have low enough assets

Qualifying for SSI does not depend on your work history or past contributions. It is entirely need based.

What is SSDI?

SSDI is also sometimes called simply Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB). 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.

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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