Question: What is the difference between Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?
Answer: Both SSI and SSDI are federal programs administered by the Social Security Administration that provide resources (in the way of income) to individuals who meet the definition of ‘disabled’.
SSI is a means-tested program while SSDI is an entitlement program.
The SSI program is really aimed at meeting the basic needs of disabled individuals (e.g., elderly, blind) who would otherwise have difficulty paying for the basic necessities such as food and housing. The program is means tested because it is designed to cover the needs of people who do not have the financial wherewithal to make ends meet.
SSDI, on the other hand, is an entitlement program that is generally available to individuals who have paid into the social security system for 10 years or more regardless of current income or assets. So, even high-income workers could qualify for SSDI.
SSI recipients will typically be Medicaid recipients, while SSDI provides access to the Medicare system. In fact, in many cases, a person who receives SSI will immediately qualify for Medicaid benefits.
By contrast, SSDI recipients are eligible to receive Medicare after two years from when they become eligible for SSDI benefits. Medicare is a federal (health) insurance program that covers many medical services, but often requires other insurance to fill in areas that are not covered.
Comment: It is often the case, that the number of monthly payments received will be much higher for a SSDI recipient than an SSI recipient which generally are capped. SSDI is based on the person’s earnings which will be higher depending on the amounts paid into the system.
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