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What is the difference between SSI and SSDI?

Q: What is the difference between SSI and SSDI?

A: Social Security has two programs that pay disabled people. One is SSI (Supplemental Security Income); the other is “regular” Social Security, or SSDI. There is a lot of confusion about these two programs in the mind of the public.


The SSDI or “regular” disability program pays a claimant based on the money paid into Social Security during a lifetime and recently. The amount is determined by how much has been paid in, divided by years of life expectancy. Payments may also be sent to a spouse and children. Eligibility includes Medicare two years after entitlement date.

The SSI program is an entitlement program, paid to people who have not worked regularly during the past five years. There is an asset limitation and a household income limitation for eligibility as well. There is immediate state Medicaid coverage with this program.

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