Social Security Disability Insurance vs. Supplemental Security Income

Posted by April Picozzi | Apr 12, 2018 | 0 Comments

There are several different types of social security claims you can make, and it can be confusing to try and figure out which is right for you. Social Security disability income (SSDI) and supplemental security income (SSI) are often used interchangeably, but they are actually different programs. Learn the differences between these two programs below.


Supplemental security income, or SSI, is a program that is need-based. Eligibility is determined by income and assets. The program is funded by general fund taxes and not by the Social Security trust fund. As a “means-tested” program, SSI has nothing to do with an applicant's work history, but rather their financial need.

To qualify, applicants must have less than $2,000 in assets and receive an extremely limited income. Those who are disabled and qualify for SSI also are able to receive Medicaid in their state. Many who qualify for SSI also qualify for other government benefit programs.


Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, is funded through payroll taxes and depends on your work history in order to qualify. You must have worked for a number of years and have contributed to the Social Security trusts fund with your FICA Social Security taxes during this time. If you are younger than 65, you must have earned a certain number of “work credits” to qualify. After receiving SSDI for 2 years, you will become eligible for Medicaid in your state.

There is a 5-month waiting period for these benefits, which means you must wait 5 months after becoming disabled to receive benefits. The amount you receive after this period depends on your earnings record, similar to your Social Security retirement benefit.

The main difference between these two programs is your work history. If you have spent a considerable portion of your life working, you will most likely qualify for SSDI benefits. If you are not old enough to have the required work history or have been unable to work, it is likely that you will qualify for SSI benefits. SSI benefits are not based on your previous income, while SSDI benefits are. You can begin receiving SSI benefits immediately, and will also qualify for Medicaid immediately. You will need to wait 5 months to receive SSDI benefits and will wait another 2 years to be eligible for Medicaid.

Since 1990, our team has been dedicated to helping our client's get the benefits they deserve. Our team of Rhode Island Social Security Disability attorneys has more than 125 years of collective legal experience, so you can feel confident that we have the knowledge and skill you need on your side.

Contact our firm today for a free consultation. Call (401) 823-9200.

About the Author

April Picozzi

PUBLIC ADJUSTER / OPERATIONS & FINANCE MANAGER April M. Picozzi joined the firm in 2013 as a licensed Independent Adjuster and legal assistant to Mark D. Tourgee, Esq. She handles all aspects of personal injury claims including client intake, maintaining client files, negotiating settlements and assi...


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