How is SSI different from SSDI?

There are many programs that the Social Security Administration runs outside of the traditional “Social Security payments” that Americans can access after retirement. Two of the most well-known of these programs are Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

Even though these programs have some similarities and it is possible to apply for both of them simultaneously in certain situations, they are very different. The main difference is that while SSI requires limited income and resources as well as specific age and disability situations, SSDI focuses on disability and work credits.

When would I get SSI?

Americans who receive SSI from the government typically have limited to no outside income and resources. Many are on SSI for their entire lives. It is also important to note that the money persons on SSI receive is typically considerably less than those who get SSDI. In fact, the average benefit for an individual receiving SSI was $577.

Another major difference between SSI and SSDI is the relationship with government healthcare. The government in most states enrolls recipients of SSI into Medicaid immediately. This is in comparison to SSDI recipients, who may be eligible for Medicare after 24 months of getting disability payments.

When would I get SSDI?

You are eligible for SSDI if you have a qualifying work history and then something happened that caused you to develop a disability which then impeded your ability to be gainfully employed. Because SSDI relies on work credits, the average payout per month is higher than SSI: in 2020 the average payout per month was $1,128.