Legal Blog

The Weekly Scenario: SSI v.s. SSDI

Question: What is the difference between Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

Answer: Both SSI and SSDI are federal programs administered by the Social Security Administration that provide resources (in the way of income) to individuals who meet the definition of ‘disabled’.
SSI is a means-tested program while SSDI is an entitlement program.

The SSI program is really aimed at meeting the basic needs of disabled individuals (e.g., elderly, blind) who would otherwise have difficulty paying for the basic necessities such as food and housing. The program is means tested because it is designed to cover the needs of people who do not have the financial wherewithal to make ends meet.

SSDI, on the other hand, is an entitlement program that is generally available to individuals who have paid into the social security system for 10 years or more regardless of current income or assets. So, even high-income workers could qualify for SSDI.

SSI recipients will typically be Medicaid recipients, while SSDI provides access to the Medicare system. In fact, in many cases, a person who receives SSI will immediately qualify for Medicaid benefits.

By contrast, SSDI recipients are eligible to receive Medicare after two years from when they become eligible for SSDI benefits. Medicare is a federal (health) insurance program that covers many medical services, but often requires other insurance to fill in areas that are not covered.

Comment: It is often the case, that the number of monthly payments received will be much higher for a SSDI recipient than an SSI recipient which generally are capped. SSDI is based on the person’s earnings which will be higher depending on the amounts paid into the system.




As always, if you have any questions or would like to learn more, please contact Steve Shane at or 301.575.0313.


Steve Shane Casual | 301.575.0313

Steve Shane provides strategic counseling to clients in need of estate administration, charitable giving and business continuity planning while minimizing estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax exposure. He offers legal guidance to clients on asset protection and the proper disposition of assets in accordance with the client’s objectives, while employing tax planning techniques such as the use of irrevocable trusts, life insurance planning, lifetime gifts and charitable trust. He is also experienced with drafting documents for business planning, the incorporation and application for exemption for Private Foundations and the administration of decedents’ estates.




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