Social Security: What’s the Difference Between SSDI and SSI


Senior citizens and people suffering from a disability have a right to collect benefits through the social security administration. Through SSDI and SSI, an individual suffering from a disability can receive certain rights and income to assist them with their daily living.

However, there is a difference between Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). In order to accurately receive what you need, a person will need to file an application through the Social Security Administration, but this is not as easy as it sounds.

Understanding the difference between SSDI and SSI ensures that you get the benefits that you need and that your claim is approved. A Greenville, SC SSDI lawyer can help you understand your situation better and know what the best approach to your case will be.

What Is the Difference Between SSDI and SSI?

It is easy to get confused about the difference between SSDI and SSI since they’re similar in the aspect that they provide monetary assistance to citizens. They both require an application and claim review process in order to determine how much you should be awarded, but there is one big difference.

The biggest difference between SSDI and SSI is that you literally pay into SSDI while you spend time working. This is what you see come out of your paycheck and go to social security for you to use at a later use. SSI does not have this requirement.

SSI is meant for people with limited income who are 65 or older or suffering from a disability and are unable to work.

The same criteria are used to apply and be approved for either SSDI or SSI, but SSDI approval includes your work history.

Who Qualifies to Receive SSDI or SSI?

Anyone with physical and mental impairments has a right to obtain benefits from the SSA. To get them, you need to file an application for the right section based on your qualifications and the qualifications the SSA has set.

Here is how you qualify to receive SSDI or SSI.


When you apply for SSDI, there are two main requirements you must meet to qualify for benefits:

The hours you have previously worked must meet the requirements by reaching credits based on how much you have worked. For instance, starting in 2022, you receive one credit for each $1,510 you earn but you can only earn 4 credits per year. The credits are used to qualify for SSDI.

Generally, a person has to earn 40 credits in order to be able to qualify for social security benefits, but younger people who have just started working can qualify with fewer credits.

Your SSDI benefits will be paid monthly until you are able to go back to work.


Generally speaking, requirements for SSI are similar, but here are the differences for qualifying for SSI benefits since it is not work-based:

  • You must be 65 or older
  • Experience total or partial blindness
  • Have another medical condition or disability that prevents you from working

Your SSI learnings will also be determined based on what you have in assets other than your house or car. The SSA will look at your bank accounts and stocks, and bonds to determine if you have little funds and need assistance.

One person can receive mostly payments of $841 whereas a couple can receive $1,261 a month. There are some states that may pay an additional monthly supplement on top of the sum. South Carolina is one of those states.

Man in wheelchair, concept of SSDI benefits

Problems With Filing for Benefits and How an Attorney Can Help

As mentioned earlier, applying for SSDI or SSI is not as easy as it sounds. The actual application process is easy, but getting approved is the hard part.

There is a low acceptance rate for SSA benefits. Only 39% of applications were approved last year. This is because there are several mistakes individuals make unknowingly when applying for benefits that are keeping them from receiving the help they need. Luckily, there are attorneys that specifically specialize in social security cases who can dramatically reduce the chance of being denied.

One of the biggest reasons a person may have their claim denied is that there is a lack of medical evidence for your disability. The key to being approved for help with the SSA is to have documented medical proof that your disability is keeping you from work.

For those that are filing for SSDI, there needs to be sufficient proof of paystubs and job performance to ensure you’ve reached the needed credits to qualify for benefits.

People who apply for SSA benefits and are denied can also make the mistake of applying again to try another time for benefits. This will likely result in another quick denial.

A Greenville, SC social security attorney knows the system and how to accurately fill out your application to make sure it is not only complete but that it is thorough enough to be approved.

Some social security cases have to go to court in order for benefits to be awarded. If this is the case, a social security lawyer will do the speaking on your behalf and will be responsible for communicating to the SSA for you.

Contact an Expert Social Security Attorney in Greenville, SC

It can be overwhelming to know if you need to file SSDI or SSI in a time of need. The application process alone can be very daunting if you are unfamiliar with the process. Instead of accidentally filling out your application incorrectly, ensure your application is filed correctly with the help of an attorney.

The attorneys at the Surface Law Firm have experience working on social security cases and have over 40 years of helping individuals with disabilities. To get started, contact our firm at (864) 300-4994 to schedule your free consultation with a Greenville, SC social security attorney.