SSI and SSDI: What's the difference?

For many people, disability seems like an abstract concept, something that won’t ever affect them. But the odds of becoming disabled are greater than you think. One in four people who are 20 years old right now will become disabled before they turn 67, so it’s important to know there are resources available if the unthinkable happens.

The federally-SSI and SSDI: What's the difference?run Social Security Administration (SSA) offers two main types of benefits for people with disabilities: Social Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). While you may have heard these terms used interchangeably – or under the blanket term “Social Security” – they’re actually two individual programs designed to meet specific goals.

What is SSDI?

Funding for SSDI comes from payroll taxes paid into the Social Security General Trust Fund.

To be eligible for SSDI, you must have worked a taxable job for a specific amount of time in the last 10 years and you must be fully insured.

Your disability, physical or mental, must be expected to last at least a year or until your death. After receiving SSDI for two years, you automatically become covered by Medicare.

The amount of benefits you receive from SSDI is determined by how much you made in your career - the higher your earnings, the greater your benefits.

What is SSI?

SSI is a federal program that supplements individuals' incomes, funded by general taxes. Funding for SSI does not come from the Social Security tax you see on your paycheck.

People who are 65 or older, disabled adults and children who are blind or disabled meet the SSI eligibility requirements.

Unlike SSDI, SSI is not based on previous time working and paying in to the Social Security General Trust Fund. Rather, it is based solely on financial need and hardship. The more resources an SSI applicant has, the less likely they are to qualify for benefits.

In North Carolina and many other states, people who are on SSI automatically qualify for Medicaid. Certain people on SSI may also qualify for additional aid from the state of North Carolina as well.

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