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The Differences Between Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

The social security law and benefit requirements can be very confusing! Many people mistakenly believe that SSI and SSDI are one and the same. This article will clarify the major differences between these two distinct programs. An estate attorney in New York can explain how each one works and whether you qualify for one program versus the other. There are strategies to help you qualify and maintain eligibility, including the use of a disability trust.


Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments come from a treasury fund and are not based on your earnings or work history. Eligibility for this program looks at your assets and income. For the year 2022, income can’t exceed $841 ($1,261 for a couple) and assets can’t exceed $2,000 ($3,000 for a couple).

This program is available to persons aged 65 or older, blind, or disabled persons of any age, including children. Although blind or disabled children under the age of 18 may qualify for benefits, their parent’s income and assets are calculated into the formula to determine eligibility. This process is referred to as “deeming.” Once the child turns 18, their parent’s income and resources can no longer be counted, and the adult child can claim benefits as a disabled adult.

Applying for SSI benefits for yourself or a child is a complex process and may include a Medicaid application as well. Medicaid is generally linked to SSI for health insurance needs. Your estate attorney in New York understands the rules of federal and state eligibility for both programs to get your applications approved faster.


Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments come from Social Security trust funds and are based on your earnings and work history. This program is insurance-based, and workers earn benefits by paying FICA taxes on their wages.

Only persons under the age of 65 and unable to work for a year or more due to illness or disability are eligible for this program. Eligibility is based on “work credits.” An applicant’s work credits are contingent on the age when the disability began and work history. Generally, 40 credits are needed, 20 of which were earned within the last 10 years ending in the year the disability began. For example, if you develop a disability at age 42, you generally need five years of work history to qualify for benefits under this program.

Medicare insurance is available to the SSDI recipient to cover health care expenses once they have collected benefits for two years, even if they are under the age of 65. As you can see, the requirements may be hard to interpret based on your situation. That is why an estate planning or disability attorney is helpful in getting your claim processed as quickly as possible.


Some individuals are eligible to receive both SSI and SSDI concurrently. However, drawing on your SSDI payment may reduce your benefit under SSI. A concurrent claim is ideal for individuals who may qualify for SSDI but had a low wage job or only worked a short time before becoming disabled. The additional SSI income can help pay for essentials such as food and housing.

Below is a helpful comparison chart:

                                                                        SSI                                                                                                                                           SSDI

Income can’t exceed $841 ($1,261 for a couple) and assets can’t exceed $2,000 ($3,000 for a couple) No asset or income test
Pays benefits only to people unable to work with low income and resource levels and is not based on work history Pays benefits to people unable to work regardless of income or resource levels based on work history
Health insurance coverage is provided by Medicaid Eligible to receive Medicare (before attaining the age of 65) after two years of entitlement
65 or older, blind or disabled people of any age, including children Under the age of 65 and disabled


To inquire if you or a loved one is eligible to apply for SSI or SSDI benefits, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced estate planning and disability attorneys. It is important to speak with and retain a knowledgeable lawyer to evaluate your options or create a disability trust. The attorneys at Russo Law Group, P.C. are experienced and can determine which government benefits programs you qualify for, guide you through the application process, and maximize your potential income.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. It’s good to know the main differences between SSDI and SSI and their applications. My uncle got injured not that long ago, and it looks like he won’t be able to work again because his mobility was reduced. My family wants to seek a professional to help us know if my uncle could get compensation to help him survive since the injuries were caused by his unsafe work conditions, so we’ll seek a professional lawyer to help us.

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