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SSDI vs SSI: What Is the Difference?

Two forms of disability benefits known as SSI and SSDI offer monthly payments for people unable to work due to disabilities. The two can sometimes be confused with one another but they work differently in the qualifications for receiving benefits. 


Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a disability benefits program for people who have been working but are unable to continue due to a disability. Employees pay into the Social Security system out of paycheck deductions every pay period. While these payments are intended for retirement, the Social Security Administration expanded the original retirement program to also cover workers who become disabled prior to retirement age.


Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program that is available to people who do not have substantial work experience and have not paid into the Social Security system. SSI is a need-based program for people with low incomes and limited assets. This is one of the most significant differences between SSDI and SSI. While both programs place limits on the amount of work a recipient can do, SSI has restrictions on income from other sources such as dividend income or an inheritance. 

Income and Asset Limits

SSDI allows income from any unearned source, meaning payments that are not earned through working. SSDI payments however, could be reduced in some cases if the recipient also receives Workers Compensation benefits, or have their Workers Compensation benefits reduced due to being an SSDI recipient.

SSI restricts most sources of income and in both cases, benefits can be cut off if the recipient is found working and earning above the allowable limits. There are however programs overseen by the SSA that allow recipients of both SSDI and SSI to work on a trial basis without losing their benefits. 

SSI also places limitations on the value of assets that a recipient can own. The limit on assets that a single SSI recipient can own is $2,000 and $3,000 for a couple who both receive SSI payments. Some exceptions to the asset limits include a home and property that a recipient already owns and lives in, and a car that a recipient owns and is the primary driver for that vehicle. Certain household possessions will also not count towards the asset limit. These assets don’t count towards the limits. There are no asset restrictions for SSDI.

Can I receive both SSDI and SSI?

Yes, in certain cases a recipient can receive both benefits at the same time, these would be known as concurrent benefits. If you meet the asset restrictions for SSI and your SSDI payment is low enough to not exceed the income limit for SSI, both types of disability payments can be received at the same time.

Can a Lawyer Help with SSDI and SSI Claims?

If you are disabled and cannot work, but unsure whether you paid enough into the Social Security system or not sure how your assets would affect your ability to receive disability benefits, contact us. The attorneys of the Friedman Firm can offer guidance for an initial

application for SSI or SSDI

or we can help you

appeal a denial

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