The Difference Between SSI and SSDI

Difference between SSI and SSDIBoth SSI and SSDI provide cash benefits for the disabled and (in some cases) the poverty-stricken. However, their eligibility requirements drastically vary. SSI is largely referred to as “welfare,” and is bestowed upon low-income individuals. SSDI is simply termed as “social security,” and is directed towards older citizens who have accumulated a required amount of work history.

It is important to acknowledge the difference between these two programs. They are often confused with one another, or used interchangeably in casual conversation. Although both of these governmental platforms contain similar characteristics, they are in fact two entirely different programs. Knowing which program is best for you is vital in improving your overall well-being and lifestyle.

Here is a summary of these programs and their various aspects, including definitions, qualifications, similarities, differences, and other important characteristics that you will want to keep in mind.


Supplemental Security Income (or SSI) is a service that is collectively referred to in the vernacular as “welfare.” It is funded by general fund taxes and is a strictly need-based program; it weighs the pecuniary needs of the individual in question according to their regular income and assets. Supplemental Security Income has nothing to do with work history. It is solely concerned with financial need.

Most people who are eligible for SSI are low income individuals who additionally qualify for other welfare benefits, such as food stamps. The amount that they receive on a regular basis depends on their place of residence and their steady income. SSI benefits will begin on the first of the month when the applicant submits their official paperwork.


Social Security Disability (or SSDI) is funded through payroll taxes, and the eligibility of the chosen beneficiaries is based on their work history. They are considered “insured,” due to the fact that they have worked a certain number of years and have made extensive financial contributions to the Social Security trust fund through taxes.

Candidates for SSDI must be under the age of 65 and are required to have earned a specified amount of “work credits.” There is a five month waiting period for SSDI, which means that the applicant will not have their benefits paid until five months after they apply for SSDI.

Knowing the Difference

While many people do not distinguish between SSDI and SSI, the two are in fact two wholly different governmental programs. Though each is overseen by the Social Security Administration, and medical eligibility is determined in the same manner for both programs, SSDI and SSI contain entirely different qualifications.

Knowing the qualifications for SSDI and SSI enables you, your family, and your friends to make informed decisions when it comes to claiming disability. SSI has been established in order to help individuals trapped by poverty or destitution, while SSDI is designed to assist those citizens who have spent their entire lives working and paying into social security funds.

Learning which program fits your individual situation is a step in the right direction to claiming financial assistance in your time of need. Contact experienced attorney John Snyder today to discuss SSI or SSDI to see if you are qualified or can become qualified for either.