What's the Difference Between SSI and SSDI?


Quick Answer

The main difference between SSI and SSDI is that SSDI is based on a recipient’s accumulated work credits or work history and SSI is given to people who do not have enough work credits to qualify for assistance. Work credits are awarded for each year in which a person works.

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Full Answer

Recipients of SSI must be 65 or older, disabled, blind or have a parent with a disability or blindness, and be considered low-income. An applicant’s resources, including money in the bank, are examined to determine eligibility.

By contrast, SSDI is available to disabled people below the retirement age who meet the work credits requirement. The disability must be severe enough to prevent the person from working full time. The disability must also be expected to last at least 12 months, or expected to end in death, in order for a person to qualify. If approved for SSDI benefits, a recipient can work full time and earn up to a pre-determined amount.

SSI is funded through general revenues collected by the U.S. Treasury Department. The program was started in 1974. SSDI is funded by employers, workers and those who are self-employed. SSDI was started in 1960, and was designed to also help dependents of disabled workers.

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