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Back to the Basics – What are the Differences Between SSI and SSDI?

Aug. 10, 2016

The Social Security Administration is a federal agency that governs both SSI and SSDI. It is very common to have heard of these acronyms, but to not understand the differences between the two programs. This article aims to look closer at the two kinds of benefits and explain the basic differences between the two.


SSI stands for Supplemental Security Income. SSI is a benefit program that pays a small amount out each month to recipients. If someone is eligible for SSI they will also generally be eligible for Medicaid and food stamps. There may also be other social services and benefits programs that an SSI recipient can receive based on his or her benefits status. To be eligible for SSI, you must have limited income and be elderly, blind, or disabled. There are also asset limits for people applying for SSI, with single people being allowed to have assets up to $2000, and married people to have assets worth $3000.


SSD is an acronym for Social Security Disability. SSD is a program that provides benefits for adults who have worked in the past but are now too disabled to work. To be eligible for SSD you must have a medical condition that is expected to last one year or more or is expected to end in death. You need to be 18 or older to apply for SSD. Applicants must be out of work due to their disability for five months before they can apply for SSD. After two years of getting SSD, a person is eligible for Medicare.

Notable Differences

One of the biggest differences is that SSI is means-tested and SSD is not. What that means is that to be eligible for SSI, your income must be below a certain guideline. Another big difference is that SSD is only for adults and people that have worked in the past. Conversely, SSI is for eligible people of any age and does not require a work history. SSI and SSD are funded in different ways, which is somewhat related to the eligibility requirements. SSD is for former workers and is funded through the social security taxes that are paid by workers, employers, and self-employed people. SSI comes from general tax revenue. As mentioned above, another difference is the kind of government health insurance that is provided, SSI has Medicaid and SSD has Medicare. Finally, one of the most significant differences for people who are eligible for the programs is that the SSI monthly benefit is generally less than the SSD benefit. While specific payments differ depending on circumstances, the standard federal payment in 2015 was $733 for SSI recipients, while the average SSD payments are $1,165 per month. Further, if an SSI recipient earns any income, it will offset the benefit he or she receives.

Pacific Northwest SSI and SSD Attorneys

If you are thinking about applying for SSI or SSD or have questions about the programs, you should contact a knowledgeable SSI and SSD attorney. Our experienced SSI and SSD attorneys at JP Law, PC, with offices all over Washington and Oregon, can help you to make the best case for these benefits.

The SSA Wants To Help You Return To Work: Here's What You Need To Know

Nearly 14 million people in America receive some kind of disability benefits through governmental programs like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) each year. Being awarded approval for such benefits can be a long and stressful process, but what happens after you have them? Many people experience changes in their medical or financial status after starting to collect disability, so how can they proceed into the workforce without losing all those hard-won benefits?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has built a comprehensive program called Ticket To Work, which helps people currently on disability to gain employment experience, while keeping their medical, and in some cases, their financial benefits. This free and voluntary program is built on a network of employers and service providers from all areas of the country, coming together to create incentives for people with disabilities to return to work or to begin work for the first time. Under the provisions of the Ticket To Work program, you can explore wage-earning opportunities without having to surrender your SSDI or SSI benefits.

It is well documented that people who engage in some kind of work tend to be happier, more fulfilled, and feel more independent. It's also a great avenue to meet new people and learn new skills that can help you earn income now and down the road. In order to qualify for the Ticket To Work program, you must be:

  • Between the ages of 18 and 64

  • Currently receiving either SSDI or SSI

  • Ready and willing to work

When you are disabled, and have been out of work for a long time, or have never worked before, it can be intimidating to enter the workforce. The SSA understands this, and has built in protections for your benefits if you experience what is known as an unsuccessful work attempt, or UWA. It's okay to not get it perfectly right on the first try, and you may need to stop working again due to your disability. This safety net is one of the many benefits provided by the Ticket To Work program, among many others like:

  • Job coaching

  • Vocational rehabilitation

  • Resume development

  • Employer networking

  • Educational and training incentives

If you are currently collecting disability and would like to explore your potential employment options, talk to a qualified Portland area disability attorney or Ticket To Work representative today at JP Law!

A Quick Overview Of Social Security Disability Family Benefits

We all know that one person's disability can have a tremendous impact on their loved ones. It is never just one person who is affected by a serious medical condition or the inability to work. Because of these situations, the Social Security Administration has allowed for certain family benefits to be collected under one individual's disability record, but many families are not fully aware of the resources available to them. A qualified disability benefits attorney in Portland can answer questions about your family's potential to be included in a disability program, and you can also reach out to someone at the SSA.

There are many different family structures, and the SSA has tried to include provisions for many different relatives and the ability for them to collect benefits. Whether you have a loved one who helps to take care of you or your children, you have a child with disabilities, or another situation, it's always a good idea to look into the family benefits that may be covered under your Social Security Disability Insurance. Under this auxiliary program, benefits may be paid to your:


  • If they are age 62 or older or/

  • If they take care of your children

Divorced spouse

  • If you were married for at least 10 years

  • They must be at least 62 years old

  • If they are currently unmarried

  • If they are not currently on anyone else's SSD benefit record


  • If they are under the age of 18

  • If they are between the age of 18-19 and are a full-time student

  • If they are unmarried

Disabled Child

  • If they are under the age of 18 or

  • If they are an adult child, as long as their disability began before the age of 22 (they must meet the “definition of disability”) and they are unmarried

As you can see, there are many different categories that you or your family member may fall under, in order to qualify for family benefits through SSD programs. A person with a disability often has a spouse and/or children, who are also greatly impacted by the disability.

If you think your situation qualifies for any kind of family disability benefits under the SSA, get hold of our Portland social security disability office to discuss your questions and application process.

By: Websol