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The Difference Between the SSI and SSDI Disability Programs - MARCA

There are two separate disability programs which are administered (in whole or in part) by the Social Security Administration, and they are: SSI (“Supplemental Security Income”) which is a means-tested program not dependent on Social Security work credits; and SSDI (“Social Security Disability Insurance”) which is not means-tested but rather a benefit earned from working and contributing to Social Security through payroll or self-employment taxes. The former (SSI) might be thought of as a public assistance program, whereas the latter (SSDI) is an insurance program for workers who may become disabled. The two are often confused with each other, and that confusion is made worse by those who think “SSI” stands for “Social Security Income.” But all of this is sorted out in this MARCA article which offers a description of both programs and how they work.

Also, if you’re unsure about how these basics apply to you, or if you have any questions about your individual situation under Social Security, note that the AMAC Foundation provides a free-to-the-public advisory service to help Americans navigate the complexities of this program. Learn more about it here…

Comments On This Topic

    • Bell,
      The frequency of review of your eligibility for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) benefits will vary depending on your specific circumstances. SSI Eligibility for children under 18 may be reviewed as often as yearly. Frequency of review for disabled adults largely depends on the likelihood of improvement of your disability. If you’re designated as “medical improvement expected” a review will be conducted within 6 to 18 months of the start of your benefits. If you are categorized as “medical improvement possible” a review will be conducted about every 3 years, and if you’re designed as “medical improvement not expected” your eligibility will be reviewed every 7 years or so. Remember too that “SSI” is a means-tested program for those with little income and few assets, so if any of that changes you will also be subject to a “redetermination” of your eligibility for SSI benefits. You should report any changes to your financial circumstances which might also change your eligibility for SSI benefits.
      Russell Gloor
      National Social Security Advisor
      The AMAC Foundation

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