Difference Between SSDI and SSI

Two Different Programs

The Social Security Administration pays disability benefits to individuals who are unable to work due to medical conditions that are expected to last at least 12 months or result in death. Benefits are paid through two programs: the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Eligibility requirements are different for the two programs. An individual can receive both types of benefits if the eligibility requirements are met.

SSDI provides benefits to individuals who are “insured” by earnings-based contributions to the Social Security trust fund pursuant to the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). SSI, on the other hand, is an assistance program for aged, blind, and disabled individuals with limited income and resources. Eligibility for SSI depends on income and resources — not on how recently or how long the individual worked. The Federal Government funds SSI from general tax revenues, not from the Social Security trust fund.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Benefits

To be eligible for benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, you must first meet two different earnings tests: a “recent work” test and a “duration of work” test to show that you worked recently enough and long enough under the Social Security system. (Certain blind workers are exempt from the “recent work” test.)

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Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is administered by the Social Security Administration but is funded by general funds of the United States Treasury. To be eligible for SSI disability benefits, you must be a United States citizen or national (or a qualifying nonresident); have limited income and resources; and be disabled, blind, or age 65 or older. Unlike SSDI benefits, SSI benefits are not based on prior work.

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