SSDI and SSI: What Is The Difference, Anyway?

Many of our blogs focus on the more complicated aspects of SSDI and SSI. Previously, we’ve discussed topics like working while disabled, filing out the application, and appealing a denial. But there is one thing we haven’t touched on – what even are SSDI and SSI?!


For starters, what do SSDI and SSI stand for? SSDI stands for Social Security Disability Insurance. It is sometimes also abbreviated to SSD.

SSI stands for Supplementary Security Income.

What’s the Difference?

The main difference between SSDI and SSI is a matter of income and work history.

SSDI is available to people who have worked for a certain amount of years. Since they have worked in the past, they are considered “insured,” meaning that they have been making contributions to the Social Security fund.

SSI, on the other hand, is completely need-based. It has nothing to do with past work history. Additionally, SSI is funded through general fund taxes, and does not rely on Social Security.

SSI is a means-based program. It is designed to provide the basic needs for disabled people who would otherwise be unable to afford food or shelter. This also means that the requirements for SSI are much stricter, since they are trying to help a specific group of people, and want to make sure the right people are receiving help. SSDI, on the other hand, is entitlement based. Anyone who has paid into the Social Security System for at least ten years, regardless of current income or assets, can apply for SSDI.

People who receive SSI immediately qualify for Medicare. SSDI beneficiaries can only receive Medicare after two years of receiving their SSDI benefits.


To qualify for SSI, all someone needs to do is have a limited income, including less than $2,000 in assets for an individual, or under $3,000 in assets for a couple. To get SSI, a person also needs to make less than $1,140 per month.

For SSDI, applicants must be under 65 years old, and have a past work history.

Other Questions?

We know these topics are confusing! If you’d like to discuss your specific situation with SSDI or SSI, contact us to schedule a free case consultation!


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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