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SSI vs. SSDI: What Are They & How Are They Different

What is SSI vs. SSDI?Several federal benefits programs offer supplemental income support for individuals living with disabilities. The two most common programs are Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Both are administered by the Social Security Administration. While similar, these programs differ in very distinct ways.

The difference between SSI and SSDI is confusing for many of our social security disability clients. Fortunately, we can help clear up this confusion and answer all your questions about SSI vs. SSDI and how you qualify for each.

At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, we have SSDI attorneys to lead you through the qualifying process. Our law firm has what it takes to help you file a successful disability claim and collect the benefits you deserve. Even if you already received an SSI or SSDI claim denial, we can help you through the appeals process.

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What is SSI?

SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, is a type of disability paid to qualify individuals whose household income falls below a certain level. In other words, SSI is a “needs” based disability. If your household income exceeds a certain amount, you are deemed not to be in “need” and do not qualify for SSI.

This income limit is based on the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR) and changes annually with the cost-of-living adjustment. For 2022, the FBR is $841 per month for individuals and $1,261 for couples. However, your countable income may be different from your actual income, so give Rainwater, Holt, and Sexton a call, and we will advise you on whether you exceed this income limit.

What is SSDI?

SSDI, Social Security Disability Insurance, is a type of disability available to those who have worked (and paid FICA taxes) for a required minimum number of years. As you work, you are paying taxes, which “insure” you under SSDI in the event you become disabled. If you stop working, you stop paying those taxes, and your “insured period” will eventually end. The date it ends is what the Social Security Administration terms your “date last insured” or “DLI,” and you must prove you became disabled before this date to have access to SSDI benefits.

What is the Difference Between SSI and SSDI?

The main difference between SSI and SSDI is how you qualify for these programs. SSI is needs-based, and SSDI is based on work credits. You must also have a qualifying disability to obtain the benefits for either of these programs.

For example, if you are a low-income recipient of Medicaid and have a qualifying disability, you may find that you are also eligible for SSI. If you are a senior who suffered a disability but you are not low-income, you may find that your work history allows you to collect disability benefits through the federal SSDI program.

Comparison of SSI and SSDI

FactorEligibility SSI

  • Age 65+
  • Blindness or disability at any age

  • Limited resources
  • Low income

  • Disability

  • Work credits
FactorBenefits Begin SSI

  • Date of SSI eligibility

  • 1st month after claim filed

  • 6th month of disability
FactorAverage Benefit Monthly SSI$584 (as of Sept 2021) SSDI$1,152 (as of Sept 2021)
FactorMaximum Benefit Monthly SSI$841 for eligible individuals and $1,261 for couples (2022) SSDI$3,148 in 2021
FactorHealth Insurance SSIShould automatically qualify for Medicaid. No waiting period. SSDIShould automatically qualify for Medicare after a 24-month waiting period.

Can I Collect Both SSI and SSDI?

Many disabled Americans qualify for both SSI and SSDI at the same time. This is because they have limited resources and income, as well as work history. These are known as concurrent benefits. How does it work?

Consider this scenario: Roger applied for both SSDI and SSI benefits because he worked as a utility worker for 30 years. However, he also has limited resources and no income. He filed for both on February 1, 2020, after his disability left him unable to work. The last day he was able to work was January 15, 2020. This would be his “alleged onset date.”

Since SSI benefits begin the month his application is filed, he can begin receiving SSI benefits. After his five-month waiting period, he is also eligible to receive SSDI benefits. However, his SSI benefits will be reduced by the amount of his SSDI benefits.

Should I Apply for SSDI or Early Social Security Benefits?

If you are disabled but not over the age of 65, you may wonder if you should begin collecting early social security benefits or apply for SSDI. Taking early retirement often reduces your benefits significantly. As such, most individuals will want to qualify for SSDI instead. If you decide to take early retirement, you can apply for retroactive SSDI. An experienced SSDI attorney can help you determine which option is best for you.

If you didn’t hire an SSDI attorney at the beginning of the SSDI application process, it is still beneficial to hire one now. Your chances of approval at appeal are much greater with an experienced SSDI attorney in your corner. If you are considering taking early retirement – don’t. Speak to an experienced SSDI attorney at our law firm first!

Contact Our Arkansas SSDI Attorneys

If you believe that you may qualify for social security disability in Arkansas, it is crucial to speak with an experienced SSDI lawyer immediately. We can help you file the disability claims you need, handle the appeals process, and prevent errors that might jeopardize your claim.

With nine offices in Arkansas and Tennessee – Little Rock, Little Rock-Corporate Hill, Springdale, Conway, Hot Springs, Bryant, Jacksonville, Jonesboro, and Memphis—our Arkansas and Tennessee SSDI lawyers are easily accessible from the moment you need us. Fill out a contact request form, which only takes a minute, or simply dial (800) 434-4800 and tell us your story.

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