Q & A
What’s the difference between SSI and SSDI, and what should I apply for?
Complete Question: I need to file for disability, but I don’t know if I should file for SSI or SSDI. What’s the difference?
Answer: SSI stands for “Supplemental Security Income” and SSDI stands for “Social Security Disability Insurance” and they both pay disability. Both of these programs are administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), but they do have a significant difference between them.
SSDI is a part of Title II of the Social Security Act. These disability benefits (like old-age retirement – or Social Security benefits) are based on the number of credits you have earned while working and paying into the Social Security system. However, unlike Social Security, you do not need 40 credits to be eligible. The number of credits you need is based on your age. For example, if you are 40 years old, you need 20 credits; if you are 50 years old, you need 28 credits.
SSI, on the other hand, is a part of Title XVI of the Social Security Act and it pays disability benefits to adults and children with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, and/or over age 65. Therefore, credits are not needed. Since there is no “credit” requirement and it is intended for people with low income, SSI has additional requirements that involve income limits and resource limits. They also take into account factors such as deemed income and living arrangements (to see if you have income assistance from others).
You do not have to worry about which program is a better option for you. When you apply for disability, your application is automatically an application for both programs. In fact, some people qualify for both SSI and SSDI and will receive benefits from both programs. Since both programs are administered by the SSA, the specific requirements used to determine if an adult is disabled is the same for both SSI and SSDI; however, they do not determine disability in the same way for children (those under 18).