Social Security Disability Benefits and Eligibility: SSDI vs. SSI

By Disability Group

What are the two different types of Social Security benefits available if I become disabled?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are the two federal disability programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. The Social Security Administration funds both programs.

What is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

Social Security Disability Insurance benefits fall under title II of the Social Security Act signed into law by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935 as part of the New Deal. This federally funded program was to provide insurance to workers who could no longer work because of old age or disability.

Who qualifies for SSDI?

In order to qualify for SSDI you must have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes. SSDI works similarly to a pension, where you pay into the plan throughout your working years.  Social Security establishes whether you have worked long enough by assigning work credits to your wages/SS taxes you paid per year.  For grown adults you need 40 work credits. Once you have 40 work credits you have “insured status.”

SSDI benefits are paid to those who have been found disabled as defined by Social Security and have “insured status.”

What benefits do I receive if I’m found disabled and have “insured status”?

The amount you receive each month is calculated from your previous earnings. SSDI monthly checks range from $500 to $2000. You receive these benefits regardless of whether you have other adequate resources.  Being wealthy does not make you ineligible. Also, if you have minor children they are eligible to receive benefits.

What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Supplemental Security Income pays benefits based on you being found disabled and in financial need.  It is funded by general tax revenues and not by Social Security taxes. SSI falls under title XVI of the Social Security Act and is the result of Richard Nixon’s effort in 1972 to reform the nation’s welfare programs.

 Who qualifies for SSI? How much do I get per month?

You qualify for SSI if you are found disabled as defined by Social Security and are found in financial need. Unlike SSDI, wealth makes you ineligible for SSI. If you have $2000 in the bank or in assets, you are ineligible for SSI.  Also, your minor children cannot receive benefits under SSI. As of 2010, if you qualify for SSI you can receive up to $674 per month. Some states supplement the SSI amount.