SSI vs SSDI: What’s The Difference? | [2022 Update]

Social Security disability benefits help many individuals and families in America. When someone cannot work due to a disability, the financial stress is often overwhelming. SSI and SSDI both provide monthly benefits to people with disabilities, but there are significant differences between the two. One of the biggest differences is eligibility rules, but there are a few other differences as well. Keep reading as we give you the details on both of these important programs and tell you how the two are different. We’ll also provide information on how to apply for these benefits if you think you qualify.


What Is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Supplemental Security Income is a Federal program that provides financial assistance to older individuals or individuals with a disability who have financial needs. Although the program is administered by the Social Security Administration, it is not funded by Social Security taxes. Instead, the program is funded from the general budget of the Federal government through general tax revenue. SSI payments are available to those age 65 and older, younger individuals with a disability, or children with disabilities.

The payments that you can expect to receive from SSI benefits are not extremely high. The average payment received in 2022 is around $620, while the maximum amount an individual may receive is $841. Remember that you must have limited income and resources to qualify for this program. You must have assets of less than $2,000. Exactly what is counted toward countable income and assets can get a little confusing. Obvious things like cash in a bank account count toward the limit, while income tax refunds do not. You can visit to find more information about what is considered income for SSI purposes.


What Is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

SSDI benefits provide payments to people with disabilities who are unable to work because of their disability. This program is administered through the Social Security Administration, and it is funded through Social Security taxes. Because of this, you must have a sufficient work history to qualify for these benefits. Generally, you must have worked at least ten years and paid Social Security taxes during that time to qualify for SSDI benefits. If you do not have sufficient work credits, then you will not qualify for SSDI. You may, however, still be able to qualify for SSI payments.

SSDI will closely examine your medical condition to determine whether it meets their definition of disability. Just because you cannot return to your previous job does not mean that you are considered disabled. You must be able to show that you cannot perform work of any kind. Since many people receiving SSDI are younger individuals, you should know that your family members may qualify as beneficiaries as well. If you have minor children and receive SSDI payments, those children may qualify for benefits also.


SSI VS. SSDI: Key Differences

So, what’s the difference between SSI and SSDI? While both of these disability programs provide monthly payments directly to recipients, there are some major differences between the two. Here are the three big differences between these two entitlement programs.


— Eligibility

The eligibility rules for these programs are quite different. To qualify for SSDI, you must have worked for at least ten years and paid Social Security taxes during that time. Even if you are self-employed, you may still qualify as long as your taxes have been paid properly. This program is funded through the Social Security Trust Funds, so you must have paid into this system to receive benefits from it. If you become disabled and unable to work, you can qualify for this benefit regardless of your income. Even if you have income from other sources or a large number of assets, you can still receive SSDI payments.

SSI, on the other hand, has no work requirement. If you are over age 65 or a younger person with a disability, you can qualify as long as you meet the income and resource requirement. SSI is a needs-based program, so it is only for people with limited income and resources. Even if you have never worked, you can qualify for the SSI program if your countable income is low enough.


— Benefit Amount

Qualifying individuals will quickly see that these two programs have very different benefit amounts. SSI recipients typically receive much lower payments than SSDI recipients. The benefit amount for an SSI recipient is calculated using the Federal benefit rate along with the recipient’s other income. SSDI, however, is calculated based on the prior earnings of the recipient.

The average monthly SSDI payment in 2022 is $1,358, while the average SSI payment in 2022 is $621. You can see that SSDI recipients receive double the amount received by SSI recipients in most cases. Even with these payments, it is often difficult for these individuals to pay for basic living expenses each month. For this reason, SSI recipients often automatically qualify for other Federal and state assistance programs like food stamps, housing assistance, and health care.


— Health Insurance Options

Recipients of these programs can also qualify for assistance with health insurance, but the program they qualify for differs. SSI recipients will automatically be eligible for Medicaid in most cases, while SSDI beneficiaries will qualify for Medicare. There is a waiting period before SSDI recipients are able to enroll in Medicare. You must have received SSDI benefits for 24 months, and then you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare.


Applying For Disability Benefits

Applying for disability benefits is not difficult. The easiest and quickest way to apply for either SSI or SSDI benefits is to apply online. You can complete your application online and provide all relevant documentation. It might take an hour or more to complete the application, but you should be as thorough and detailed as possible. You can also complete an application over the phone if you prefer that option.

In the past, you could choose to complete an application at your local Social Security office. Today, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, that option is limited to only the most critical cases. Walk-ins are not being accepted at local offices today, so you will need to call to schedule an appointment before arriving.

Once you complete your application, the process can be quite lengthy – especially for SSDI benefits. In some cases, it can take as long as 24 months before getting approved for benefits. If your initial application is denied, then you can request reconsideration and even get a hearing before an administrative law judge. Many recipients are successful on appeal, so do not give up even if your application is met with a denial.


The Bottom Line

SSI and SSDI are both important programs that provide financial aid accessibility if you become disabled and unable to work. Though both programs are managed by the SSA, they have nothing to do with retirement benefits. SSDI eligibility requires a work history, while SSI does not. SSI payments are typically much lower than SSDI payments, and many SSI recipients will automatically qualify for other assistance programs. Completing an application online is simple, so go ahead and apply today if you think you may qualify.


Frequently Asked Questions


Which is better: SSI or SSDI?

Both SSA disability programs are great, and the one you receive depends on which one you can qualify for. If you are eligible for SSDI, then you can expect higher benefit payments. However, if you do not have a work history, then SSI might be your only option. One program is not necessarily better than the other. There are simply some differences between the two, and those differences will likely determine which one you are able to get.


How much is SSDI vs SSI?

SSDI payments are approximately double the amount of SSI payments on average. SSI monthly payments average around $621 in 2022, while SSDI monthly payments are $1,358 on average. The maximum amount that you can receive on SSDI is also significantly higher. However, you must have paid Social Security taxes for at least ten years to qualify for SSDI. The payments are higher because you have paid taxes into the system. You do not need a work history to qualify for SSI, but the payments are much lower because you have never paid into the Social Security program.


What are the 3 types of Social Security?

There are three main types of Social Security. The first is Social Security retirement benefits. These benefits are available to people who are retirement age and have paid Social Security taxes during their working years. The next is Social Security Disability or SSDI. These benefits are available to younger individuals who are unable to work due to a disability. You must have worked at least ten years to qualify for these benefits. Finally, SSI benefits are the third type of Social Security. These benefits are available to people age 65 or older or younger individuals with a disability. You do not need a work history to qualify, although the payments you receive are not extremely high.

Elliot Marks

Elliot Marks

Elliot has spent years providing clear and concise information to help navigate the complex nuances of social security and many other government services in the United States. Elliot has a passion for helping those in need of these services to be able to find timely access to news and information that is relevant and helpful to their daily lives.