Differences between SSDI and SSI

Differences between SSDI and SSI

When people talk about getting “disability benefits,” what do they mean?

Both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are administered by the Social Security Administration and are designed for people with disabilities. The similarities between the two benefits stop there, however. They are, in fact, quite different.


Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is designed for workers who meet Social Security’s definition of disabled and have earned enough credits to qualify. With SSDI, the recipient’s benefit is based upon their past earnings. The minor child whose parent is a SSDI recipient may also receive benefits. People with long gaps of unemployment or earners of minimum wage will receive substantially less in SSDI benefits than someone who earned a higher salary while continuously maintaining employment.


Supplemental Security Income (SSI), on the other hand, is designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people who have little or no income. The amount of benefits is primarily based on need, rather than employment, and goes to support a recipient’s basic needs such as food and shelter.

The amount that a recipient is paid each month depends on their particular situation, including their income, living environment and whether they are over 65, disabled or blind. Benefits can extend to children and spouses.

The monthly maximum federal amounts for 2011 are $674 for an eligible individual and $1,011 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse.

For more detailed information about SSDI or SSI, go to: http://www.ssa.gov/disability.