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What is the main difference between SSI and SSDI?

Karns & Kerrison

You may have heard of two different types of Social Security benefits: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Some people may be confused about the two and wonder if they qualify for one or both of them. The truth is that while they do provide monetary assistance to the disabled in Rhode Island, the two programs actually are very different and are tailored to serve two different groups of people.

Findlaw states that the major difference between SSDI and SSI is that SSDI is for those who have paid into Social Security through taxes on their income. However, not everyone who is disabled has worked long enough to accumulate enough work credits through Social Security to qualify for SSDI. So SSI can step in by assisting individuals whose income is low and possess a disabling condition that does not allow them to earn more money. SSI keeps these individuals financially afloat so they can continue to work and eventually earn those work credits that would qualify them for SSDI.

In contrast to SSDI, eligibility for SSI is not determined by your employment history. Your income status is what the government uses to qualify you for SSI. The Social Security Administration will take your financial assets, property and other resources, and use those to calculate your income. The more resources you possess, the less likely you are to qualify for SSI. For example, if you possess a threshold of money higher than $2,000 if you are single, or $3,000 if you are married, you may end up not qualifying. However, some resources, such as the value of the applicant's home, will not disqualify a person from being considered for SSI.

It should be noted that determining eligibility for either of these two benefits can be difficult, as the Social Security Administration uses complex rules and regulations to determine if applicants qualify for benefits. However, the basic difference between SSI and SSDI is that you do not have to worry about having paid into Social Security if you have become disabled to qualify for SSI.

This article, while educating the reader on Social Security benefits, is not to be taken as legal advice.

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