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Frequently Asked Questions: Social Security Administration

What is the difference between Social Security disability (also known as SSD or SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability?

According to the SSA's website, the Social Security Administration is responsible for two major programs that provide benefits based on disability: 

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is financed with Social Security taxes paid by workers, employers, and self-employed persons. To be eligible for a Social Security benefit, the worker must earn sufficient credits based on taxable work to be "insured" for Social Security purposes and must be found to meet the established disability criteria. Disability benefits are payable to blind or disabled workers, widow(er)s, or adults disabled since childhood, who are otherwise eligible to qualify for benefits under the disability requirements established by the program. The amount of the monthly disability benefit is based on the Social Security earnings record of the insured worker.

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program financed through general revenues. SSI disability benefits are payable to adults or children who are disabled or blind, have limited income and resources, meet the living arrangement requirements, and are otherwise determined to be eligible. The monthly payment varies up to the maximum federal benefit rate, which may be supplemented by the State or decreased by countable income and resources.  For an explanation of SSI benefit payment rates, please visit SSA's Understanding Supplemental Security Income web page.