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What Is the Difference Between Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability?

Many people think supplemental security income (SSI) and Social Security Disability (SSDI) are similar because they are both federal government assistance programs administered by the Social Security Administration. However, the financial eligibility requirements and medical criteria for qualification are vastly different. These programs are the largest of several programs funded by the government that assist individuals with disabilities. Before applying to one of these government assistance programs, it’s crucial to understand what you may qualify for.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

This federal income program is constructed to assist 65 + individuals with disabilities or who are blind who have little to no income, providing them with the money necessary to cover basic needs such as food, shelter, and clothing. SSI provides financial assistance to individuals with limited employment experience; as of 2021, individuals must have less than $814 a month in unearned income to receive SSI benefits.

Social Security Disability (SSDI)

SSDI program assists individuals aged 65 or older who have a disability and their families; however, those individuals qualify for SSDI benefits if they are insured, have prior work experience, and have paid Social Security Taxes. The required amount of work credits needed for eligibility depends on your age and the total yearly wages.


Main Differences Between SSI and SSDI

The most significant difference between these two programs is that SSI is based on age/disability and limited income resources and assets. SSDI is determined by disability and sufficient work credits. The financial benefits and the age/disability characteristics are the main differences between these programs.



Often, it takes several months to receive a decision for eligibility for SSI or SDDI; the length of time depends on when your medical records and other evidence were obtained to form a decision if you qualify. However, SSI and SDDI are different regarding benefits.


According to the National Council on Aging, individuals can receive Supplemental Security income benefits the first full month after the claim was filed or if later the date found eligible. In comparison to SDDI, individuals can receive benefits after 3-5 months to decide.

Eligibility Requirements

Supplemental Security Income has different eligibility requirements than Social Security Disability. To qualify for SSI benefits, an individual must be a U.S citizen and meet the Social Security Administration (SSA) requirements. Eligibility requirements for Social Security Disability are solely based on previous contributions to Social Security.

Average Monthly Income

Generally, the benefit rates tend to change annually; however, as of 2021, the average monthly income for SSI benefits is $794 for an individual and $1,191 for a couple or family. For SSDI, the average monthly rate is $1,128 for an individual.

Health Insurance

Upon qualification for SSI, individuals automatically qualify for Medicaid; however, a 24-month waiting period must take place in order to qualify for Medicare under Social Security Disability.


Before applying for one of these programs, it is essential to see which one fits best for your situation; depending on your circumstances, you may be able to qualify for both programs.

Contact Pennsylvania Social Security Disability Lawyers

Rubin & Badame, Attorneys at Law, P.C. has over 35 years of experience representing individuals with disabilities. We strive to provide personal attention and care for all our clients in need. If you or someone you love needs assistance with an SSI or SSDI application, contact us at (610) 595-4917 for your free consultation. Our dedicated team is focused on high-quality client representation; we are eager to assist you in maximizing your benefits.