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Which Pays More SSI or SSDI?

Wykoff & Sikes, PLLC April 19, 2023

This question is popular among those seeking monetary support after injury or sickness. Often phrased: “Does Disability Pay More than Social Security?” It is important to first establish which Social Security benefit you intend to apply for. Although there are several categories of benefits ranging from retirement, survivors, widows and disability benefits–for disability purposes, there are two types of benefits. First is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)–this is also referred to as Title II and is based on your accumulated work credits. The other disability benefit from the Social Security Administration is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)– also known as Title XVI and is based on your household income. 

Because of a misunderstanding about what each benefit actually is, the answer to the question of payment can be difficult to give. With both benefits coming from the Social Security Administration a more accurate question would be: “Does Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pay more than Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?” These are the two programs offered by Social Security to persons with a disability.

What is SSI and Who Benefits from It?

SSI is an acronym for Supplemental Security Income. It is a program managed by the Social Security Administration, which defines it as: “We pay monthly benefits to people with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, or age 65 or older. Blind or disabled children may also get SSI.”

Benefits from SSI can be paid separately or in addition to regular Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Although there appears to be a lot of similarities, the two programs have key differences. The most significant difference is that SSI is an income based program. Despite needing to establish the same medical findings as in an SSDI claim, the non-medical eligibility is based on your household income. In order to be eligible for SSI, your income must be below a certain threshold.

What is Social Security Disability Insurance?

Though the physical requirements for SSI and SSDI are similar, your ability to access the two differs. Unlike SSI benefits that are paid to anyone who qualifies, SSDI benefits are tied directly to your work history. You become “insured” by Social Security if you’ve worked enough years, making regular payments of your Social Security taxes on your earnings.

The SSDI program pays benefits to you and certain family members if you are “insured.” This means that you worked long enough – and recently enough – and paid Social Security taxes on your earnings. Without meeting these requirements, you cannot collect SSDI.

Soooo Which Pays More, SSI or SSDI?

In all cases, what is most important is how much money do you need to live. And from that, which program offers the higher monetary payment to the disabled SSI or SSDI? As is most things with government programs, the answer isn’t one or the other.

Again, the difference is that SSDI provides direct disability benefits for adults with a work history who have become disabled and need assistance with income. The SSI benefits are paid to low-income adults with low assets and disabled children.

In most cases, SSDI benefits pay more than SSI benefits. However, as with most government programs, exceptions exist. To determine what is best for you, consider how close you are to retirement age. If you are under the age of retirement and you qualify for SSDI, it may pay you more than double SSI benefits. If you have reached full retirement age, depending on the circumstance resolving around your disability–you may no longer be eligible for SSDI or SSI. In this situation, you would need to contact Social Security directly to obtain your date last insured to determine whether you still qualify for disability benefits. 

Getting Through the SSDI System

If you determine that you’ll get more money from SSDI, but your application was rejected, your next step could be hiring a social-security disability attorney to help. The attorneys of Wykoff & Sikes have lots of experience in these cases and are ready to fight for what you deserve. Contact us today and see how we can help!