SSDI is just one of many federal assistance programs designed to provide financial benefits to those in need. Many Americans confuse SSDI and SSI, but the two programs have vastly different requirements. 

Social Security Disability Insurance is based on your disability status, not your financial need. It is possible to receive SSDI benefits even if you are not considered to be low-income. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) does focus on helping certain populations, including the disabled, but is ultimately based on financial need.

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Comparing SSDI vs. SSI
man learning disability benefits options ssdi vs ssi
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You may qualify for SSI if you are older than 65 years of age, blind or disabled, and meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Have a low income
  • Are a U.S. citizen or a qualified noncitizen
  • Live in a U.S. state, the District of Columbia or the Northern Mariana Islands
  • Do not reside in a federal prison facility or hospital at the expense of the U.S. government

Unlike the Social Security Disability application process, SSI requires you to provide detailed information about income, assets and resources. Since SSI eligibility depends on your financial need, you may not qualify for the program if you have a sufficient income.

The SSA oversees the SSI application process. You will need to provide information about all sources of income, including other types of Social Security benefits, unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation and Veteran Affair (VA) benefits.

In addition to income, the SSA considers your resources to determine if you are eligible for SSI benefits. It counts resources such as:

  • Bank accounts.
  • Cash.
  • Stocks and bonds.
  • Vehicles.
  • Property.
  • Insurance.

With SSDI, your resources are not considered during the application process. However, you may be excluded from the SSI program if your resources total more than $2,000 as an individual or $3,000 as a married couple. 

Unlike the Social Security Disability program, you could lose your SSI benefits for various reasons. The following actions could take away your SSI benefits:

  • Leaving the country for 30 or more days at a time.
  • Giving away resources as an attempt to stay below the SSA’s resource limit.
  • Having an open felony.
  • Having an arrest warrant.
  • Going to prison, jail, correctional institutions, detention centers, halfway houses or boot camps.

It is possible to receive both SSDI and SSI benefits at the same time. You can partake in both programs as long as you qualify for each one. And, if you receive SSI benefits, your SSDI benefit amount will not be reduced because of this. The SSA does not count SSI payments when calculating your total SSDI benefit amount.

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