Two types of Social Security Disability Benefits

There are two types of Social Security Disability benefits when someone becomes disabled. Social Security Disability Insurance benefits ("SSDI") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"). What makes these programs significantly different is their eligibility requirements.

Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits

Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB), otherwise known as Social Security benefits (SSD or SSDI) are paid to insured workers who retire, are blind, or become disabled, and to their dependents and survivors.  It is an insurance policy that is paid into through taxes on a person's employment wages. An individual must pay into the system for the requisite period of time to become eligible.  When disability occurs, a qualified claimant receives a monthly benefit.  The amount of the benefit depends upon the length of a claimant's work history and the amount of earnings the individual paid into the system over the years.

Supplemental Insurance Income

By contrast, SSI is not an insurance policy that the claimant pays into.  Rather, it is a needs-based federal welfare program.  To be eligible, the claimant does not need to have paid ANY taxes at all.  In order to be eligible for SSI, an individual must be disabled (or 65 and older or blind) and have little to no income.  The maximum benefit allowed for SSI is fixed by Congress each year.  States may add a supplemental state benefit to the federal benefit amount.

Although the eligibility requirements for SSDI and SSI are different, both programs share many things in common. They are both administered by the Social Security Administration through local social security field offices.  Both share the same appeal process.  Most significantly, both share the same disability evaluating process.