If you need to apply for disability benefits through the U.S. Social Security Administration, know that there are two main benefits programs that many people often confuse. Some of the confusion stems from the fact that the acronyms used to identify Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income differ by only one letter.
Whatever the reasons, it is important to understand the other differences between the two so you know which type to pursue. Here are some of the primary differences between SSDI and SSI.
Social Security Disability Insurance
SSDI essentially allows you to access Social Security benefits before you would otherwise. However, you must meet certain criteria to qualify. Eligibility depends primarily on whether you have enough work credits and on how much you paid in taxes during your time in the American workforce. The number of work credits you need to qualify depends on your age, and exactly how much you receive each month in benefits will vary based on your past work history.
You also must meet certain disability criteria to receive SSDI benefits. For example, you may qualify if you are blind or if you meet other disability requirements outlined by the SSA.
Supplemental Security Income
A major way in which SSI benefits differ from SSDI benefits is that SSI benefits go to those who can demonstrate financial need. While you may also qualify for SSI benefits if you are blind or have another type of disability that the SSA recognizes, you must also prove financial hardship to qualify. Furthermore, you must show that your disability prevents you from earning a typical income for at least a year or longer.
Regardless of whether you pursue SSDI or SSI benefits, expect that the SSA will review your situation and medical records at set intervals to ensure you still qualify. Should you qualify for SSI benefits specifically, the SSA will also review your finances annually to ensure you still meet eligibility requirements.