Social Security Disability Insurance vs Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

What’s the difference between Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)? Even though only “Social Security Disability Insurance” has “disability” in its title, both SSDI and SSI are Social Security programs for the disabled.

Social Security Disability Insurance (aka SSDI, DIB, Title 2 benefits) pays benefits based on a worker’s contribution to Social Security through payroll taxes. This means the amount paid is different in each case. SSDI can pay benefits up to 12 months prior to the date of application. After an individual is “in pay status” for 24 months (has received 24 months of back benefits – including back benefit months) he or she is eligible to receive Medicare benefits.

Supplemental Security Income (aka SSI, Title 16 benefits) pays benefits regardless of work history. Individuals with limited, or no work history, those who have not contributed sufficiently to Social Security Disability Insurance, or who have paid into alternative programs (such as teachers paying into PERA), may still be eligible to receive SSI benefits if found disabled.

However, SSI is a “program of last resort.” In addition to requiring that an individual is disabled, Social Security must determine that the individual meets income and asset requirements. Generally, SSI is available to individuals with low incomes and limited resources. A spouse’s income, inheritance, gifts, prizes, settlements, property, etc, may make an individual financially ineligible to receive SSI benefits. You can find out more about SSI income and resource limits here.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits can only be paid back to the date of application / protected filing date (SSDI benefits can paid 12 months prior to the filing date). SSI benefits come with Medicaid benefits (SSDI provides Medicare benefits).

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are generally not considered taxable, however Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits may be taxed under some circumstances.

Social Security has a good breakdown of the difference between Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) here.

Disclaimer: This is NOT legal advice. This site provides general information about Social Security disability cases in Colorado. To discuss your particular circumstances, please contact a lawyer in your area. Please review the full disclaimer .

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Posted in: Social Security disability basics

About Tomasz Stasiuk

Tomasz Stasiuk is a Colorado Springs Social Security disability lawyer and the founding attorney of the Stasiuk Firm - a law firm specializing in Social Security disability cases in Colorado. Follow Tomasz Stasiuk on Google and Twitter


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