Civilians living under the US government share the same privileges. But, certain individuals, like seniors and people with disabilities, receive additional benefits to help with their everyday lives – and two of the most common federal aid programs are called SSI and SSDI.

Just to be clear, SSI and SSDI are not the same. Having closely similar acronyms and the fact that they’re both assistance programs for the disabled and elderly, it’s quite common for people to confuse them for each other. To help you understand the difference between the two, here’s what you need to know.


Social Security Disability Insurance, or simply SSDI, is cash assistance for workers who became disabled. As for where the money comes from, it’s the FICA that’s taxed from every paycheck. Social Security collects the amount and helps fund workers if they become disabled. You can also think of it as their insurance.

Aside from the reasons mentioned earlier, there are two requirements for receiving SSDI. These are:

  • Must have contributed work credits in the proper time period
  • Must be under 65 years old

The spouse and children of the beneficiary are eligible to receive a portion of the benefits as well.

If the funding received isn’t enough to meet the financial or motivational needs of the disabled person, they can also look for an SSDI ticket to work program. By doing so, they can have a paying job that won’t hinder their physical health.


On the other hand, Supplemental Security Income or SSI is a strictly need-based assistance program. It doesn’t matter how old the person is or if they have rendered work hours; as long as they’re disabled and their income is very limited, they can request for SSI.

Another point of difference for SSI is that seniors who are 60 years old and above are also qualified for the program, regardless of whether they’re disabled or not. In contrast to SSDI, the funding for this one comes from the government.

The cash funding that will be received for both SSDI and SSI are different. For the former, it’s calculated from their previous average monthly earnings (AIME); the latter, on the other hand, will depend on how “short on cash” the person is. Meanwhile, in cases where the disabled or elderly needs a job, they can always look at the ticket to work SSID or SSI programs.