SSDI vs. SSI Benefits: What’s the Difference?


Posted by: Chris

The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees two programs that are designed to provide benefits to disabled individuals: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). These two programs may have similar acronyms, but they are very different. Here’s what you need to know about SSDI vs. SSI benefits:

Who Qualifies?

SSI is a needs-based program that only provides benefits to low-income people who are disabled, blind, or over the age of 65. If you do not have limited resources, then you will not qualify for this program, even if you are disabled, blind, or over the age of 65.

SSDI benefits can be awarded to any disabled individual, regardless of their income. But in addition to being disabled, an applicant must also have worked long enough to contribute a significant amount of money to the SSA through Social Security taxes. To determine if you have worked long enough to qualify, the SSA converts your income into  “work credits.” The amount of income that equals one work credit changes every year. In 2018, you will need to earn $1,320 in order to earn one credit. The number of credits that you need to receive SSDI benefits will vary depending on your age, so it’s best to speak with an attorney to see if you qualify.

Monthly Payments

The way the SSA calculates how much you should receive per month is different for each of these programs. For the SSI program, the SSA starts with the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR), which is $735 for a single person this year. Then, the SSA will subtract your monthly income from the FBR. The amount that is left over is how much you will receive on a monthly basis.

However, SSDI benefits are not calculated based on a FBR. The SSDI monthly benefits are calculated based on how much you earned while you were able to work. The SSA will calculate your average earnings and then apply a formula to determine how much you should receive per month.

Source of Funds

The SSI program is funded by general federal tax revenue. On the other hand, the SSDI program is funded specifically by Social Security taxes, which are automatically taken out of employees’ paychecks.

Health Insurance

Another difference between the two programs is the health insurance provided to recipients. Anyone who is approved for SSI benefits will automatically qualify for Medicaid. However, people who receive SSDI benefits are not eligible for Medicaid. SSDI recipients will be eligible for Medicare, but not until they have received benefits for at least two years.

To determine if you qualify for SSI or SSDI benefits, contact one of our experienced attorneys today. We will learn more about your current situation and then go over all of your different options. Please call Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with an experienced attorney.