What Is the Difference Between SSI and SSDI?

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When dealing with a disability that makes returning to work difficult, if not impossible, you may be considering applying for federal benefits to help financially support yourself and your household. There are two programs available to accomplish this: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Determining which you should apply for depends on your circumstances and the purpose of each program. 

Financial Eligibility Differences Between SSI and SSDI

Even though the Social Security Administration (SSA) manages both SSI and SSDI, the financial requirements for eligibility are significantly different. SSI serves the purpose of helping the elderly, disabled, and blind meet their basic living costs like food and shelter. This narrow focus on a select group of people uses strict financial guidelines when determining eligibility, which means it is a means-tested benefit program.

Entitlement programs like SSDI, on the other hand, can be applied for by anyone who paid into the Social Security program for a decade or more. The income and assets they might hold play no role, which means that most workers could potentially be eligible to receive SSDI.

Medicaid and Medicare Access

Usually, those who receive SSI benefits are automatically eligible to obtain Medicaid coverage. This is due to it being both a state and federal healthcare program, a major motivator for those applying for the SSI program.

Those who receive SSDI benefits can become participants in the Medicare program two years after receiving their eligibility. This type of federal health insurance covers most but not all aspects of primary care. Because coverage is not comprehensive like Medicaid, SSDI beneficiaries on Medicare can purchase gap policies to cover ineligible services.

SSI and SSDI Have Different Financial Benefits

The most noticeable difference between SSI and SSDI is the financial benefit participants receive. The current Federal monthly maximum for SSI in 2021 is $794 for individuals and $1,191 for eligible married couples. Keep in mind that in addition to this amount, many states also add a supplementary payment.

SSDI bases its benefits on the beneficiary's previous earnings, with a 2021 average payment amount of $1,277 a month, though higher-income earners could receive significantly more than this.

Those who receive SSI might also have a benefit reduction if receiving other income. This offset can mean they receive less than the $794 average monthly payment most recipients receive. Further, if you were to receive an SSDI amount that exceeds this SSI benefit amount, you probably will not qualify for SSI anyway.

Contact a Skilled Arkansas Disability Attorney for Your Claim

If you are considering applying for Social Security disability benefits in Arkansas, be sure to give Wren Law Firm a call. We can help review your case and provide you with representation that comes with 20+ years of experience. For a full explanation of the process of applying for Social Security Disability, read our definitive guide.

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