There are several types of benefits available to those living with disabilities in the United States. Both SSI and SSDI are different types of benefits that provide assistance to those who meet the criteria, but people often have questions about the similarities and differences. Below, we’ll go over SSI and SSDI, their similarities and differences, and how to know if you’re eligible for one or both. 

difference between ssi & ssdi

What is SSI?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) pays a monthly benefit to those with disabilities or who have limited income resources. SSI is a needs-based program not based on work history, but instead serves individuals who fit the eligibility requirements. In order to qualify for SSI, one must meet the income requirements, be 65 years or older, or have a disability. 

What is SSDI?

Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, provides a monthly payment to those with a disability that limits the ability to work. SSDI is tied to one’s work history, so only those that have previously worked and paid into Social Security can qualify. There are several factors that contribute to the amount of SSDI paid to each individual, including age, type and severity of disability, and how long that person worked in the past. 

SSI vs. SSDI – The Differences


Because SSI and SSDI serve different purposes, they also have different qualification requirements. Those that qualify for SSI must have little to no income or resources, be aged 65 or older, or have a disability/blindness. On the other hand, SSDI recipients must meet different criteria. Someone who is eligible to receive SSDI must have a work history with contributions to Social Security and meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of a disability. 


The amount of benefits you receive is different between SSI and SSDI. Because SSI is directly based on income and needs, the amount can vary depending on your current resources and living arrangements. On the other hand, SSDI  is paid based on past income and number of years worked and how much that individual paid into Social Security. As far as when payments are deposited, the timing depends on when the recipient was born. 

Application Process

The application process for both SSI and SSDI is similar, but may require different documents and forms. While SSDI requires a work history and any recent paystubs, SSI requires proof of income, living arrangements, and a list of assets or other resources. Sometimes, additional documentation like medical evidence is needed or an application is denied. In those cases, an attorney who specializes in SSI and SSDI can help you with the process. 

Can you get both SSI and SSDI at the same time?

Some individuals may be eligible to receive both SSI and SSDI benefits. Those receiving SSDI below the income cutoff may also be eligible for SSI. For example, someone who worked part-time hours or a lower-paying job may receive a small SSDI payment, allowing them to qualify for SSI to fill in the gaps and pay for basic needs. In addition, many SSI and SSDI recipients can qualify for additional benefits; people receiving SSI automatically qualify for Medicaid, while SSDI recipients qualify after a 24-month waiting period. 

How can a social security disability attorney help?

Are you intimidated by the benefits application and all it entails? Were you already denied benefits you believe you should receive? A social security disability attorney at the ADA Group can help. Whether you’re new to the process or need help navigating the system, our lawyers are experienced at assisting those who need us. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.