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The Differences Between SSI & SSDI.

From time to time, we will dedicate our Blog posts to answering common legal questions that we encounter on a regular basis.  In this post, we are tackling the question:

What is the difference between SSDI and SSI benefits?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is responsible for operating two disability benefits programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)Potential claimants are often confused about which program[s] they may be eligible for and, as such, which ones they should apply for.  Since both programs are significantly different with respect to finding and eligibility, it is important for potential claimants to know the differences between the two programs prior to beginning the application process.  If you would like assistance in determining which programs you may be eligible for, please contact CLC Attorneys at 317-388-5424.

SSI is a means-tested program.  As a means-tested program, your eligibility for benefits is based on your financial need and not your work history.  In order to qualify for SSI benefits, you must be either blind, disabled, or over the age of 65.  You will not qualify for SSI benefits if you have more than $2000 worth of assets ($3000 for a married couple) and you must be on a limited budget.  Since eligibility for SSI benefits is not based on work history, children who are disabled or blind may also be eligible for benefits.  However, an SSI beneficiary’s dependents are not eligible to receive SSI benefits.  A disabled person SSI is entitled to also receive Medicaid benefits.

Presently, the monthly maximum amounts for SSI benefits in 2016 are $733 for an eligible individual and $1,100 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse.  Note, however, that these monthly amounts may be reduced if you receive mitigating countable income from another source.

Eligibility for SSDI benefits

Eligibility for SSDI benefits is based on your work record.  In order to be eligible for SSDI benefits, you must be under the age 65 and presently unable to work.  You must also have earned enough “work credits”prior to your disability.  For example, if you are age 31 and over, you are only eligible for SSDI benefits if you worked at least 5 out of the last 10 years immediately preceding your application for benefits and paid Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) premiums while employed.  Unlike SSI benefits, a SSDI’s recipient’s spouse and/or children are eligible to receive partial benefits known as “auxiliary benefits.”

Since SSDI is based on work record, the benefits that any individual recipient may be eligible to receive can vary dramatically.  If you want to check out what your estimated SSDI benefits will be, you can log on to the Social Security Administration’s website at

To be eligible for either program, you must be able to establish that you have a qualifying disability.  Generally speaking, SSI has a slightly broader definition for disability than SSDI.  Check back with us for blog updates regarding how to apply for benefits and establishing a qualifying disability.  If you are planning to apply for benefits or are presently appealing a denial of benefits, we can help.  Call us at 317-388-5424.