The Difference between SSDI and SSI

elderly couple looking at a check

When talking about Social Security disability benefits, a claimant may hear the use of the terms “SSDI” and “SSI” interchangeably. Both are a type of disability benefit provided by the federal government, and both are based upon a medical disability. However, they do differ in the way a claimant may qualify for them.

SSDI stands for Social Security Disability Insurance. This benefit is based upon the work credits a claimant has accumulated while working. A claimant may earn up to four credits per year. In 2020, one credit is gained for every $1,410 in wages or self-employment income. A claimant must pay the Social Security tax (it may be labeled as OASDI on your paycheck) in order to get these credits. Someone who is working under the table would not be earning credits if the tax isn’t paid. Someone who is self-employed but not paying the self-employment tax would also not be earning work credits.

SSI stands for Supplemental Security Income. For a claimant to qualify for SSI, they must be below the asset and income limits. In determining eligibility for this benefit, the Social Security Administration will examine a claimant’s bank accounts, vehicle value, personal property, life insurance, and anything that could be converted to cash. An individual holding over $2,000.00 in assets will be disqualified. A couple holding over $3,000.00 will be disqualified as well. As for income, a claimant’s earnings from work, short term disability, Veteran’s benefit, and even a spouse’s income will be considered. Even if a claimant is medically disabled, if they have too much income and assets, they will not qualify for SSI.

When applying for benefits, a claimant may qualify for SSDI, SSDI, and SSI, just SSI, or neither. It will depend on the claimant’s individual circumstances. In 2020, an individual claimant may receive a maximum SSI amount of $783.00. Since the SSI award is based upon financial need, it may be reduced if the Social Security Administration finds that the claimant’s food or housing is provided to them by a state program, a charity, family, or otherwise.

Since SSDI is based upon a claimant’s work credits, it will not matter if that claimant already has another source of income such as long-term disability through a private carrier or Veteran’s benefits. If that claimant can prove medical disability, SSDI will be awarded, and the amount a claimant receives per month is based upon the amount that they had paid in Social Security taxes. If that claimant is expected to receive less than $783.00 in 2020, SSI may be awarded to supplement that monthly benefit. A claimant may be eligible for neither benefit if they do not have the work credits required for SSDI eligibility and also have too much in assets or income to qualify for SSI.

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