Woman struggling with something at her computer

If you are dealing with a disability that is preventing you from working, then you are considering your options. You may have heard of both Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), but which should you apply for? Which pays more SSDI or SSI? Tabak Law has the answers.

How are SSDI and SSI Different?

Before we get into the differences, let’s start out by talking about how they are the same. Both programs are designed for those who are disabled and they both follow the same guidelines for their medical determination. These guidelines are complex, especially if there are multiple conditions affecting eligibility, but they can be found in the Social Security’s Blue book.

How they differ comes down to their other eligibility factors and ultimately how much they pay. SSDI is a program built to help those that have worked and are now unable to work due to a disability. The payment amount is set based upon your work history and can be reduced if you still earn an income.

Read More: Do You Get Medicare Automatically With SSDI?

SSI on the other hand does not have a work history requirement. This often makes it the obvious source of income for someone who was disabled before they reached working age. SSI is also a needs-based program which means your income—if any—has to fall below a certain threshold and your resources (money, accounts, personal items, assets, etc.) also has to fall below a certain threshold. There are only certain assets that are countable, but the resource level for an individual has to be $2,000 or less and it’s $3,000 or less for couples.

How Much Can SSI Payments Be?

Money blurred in the background of a gavel

Your payment amount will vary from year to year, but it should never go down. Each year, a cost-of-living adjustment or COLA may be assessed based on the previous year’s inflation. This mechanism made for a near-record setting adjustment in January of 2023, hot off the heels of the high-inflation year of 2022.

Beginning in January 2023, the max payment for SSI has been set at $914 for an individual and $1,371 for married couples. Though that is the maximum, this amount is often reduced and the current average for SSI payments is about $600 per month. With that said, those who qualify for SSI often also qualify for other programs at the state level which you should definitely consider looking into.

How Much Can SSDI Payments Be?

Just like with SSI, your SSDI amount can go up each year based on the COLA. With SSDI though, your payment amount is based on your work history and is actually what you would receive if you were at your full-retirement age and took Social Security retirement benefits.

Read More: Should You Apply for SSDI if You Are Close to Retirement?

Currently, the max benefit is $3,627 a month. Similar to SSI there is a limit to how much money you can earn as income while receiving SSDI benefits as well, but there is no resource limit and the income limit only takes into account income generated from work.

Can You Be On Both SSDI and SSI at the Same Time?

SSDI and SSI are not mutually exclusive programs, and as the medical qualifications are essentially the same, many seek benefits from both programs. Keep in mind though that beyond the medical qualifiers the other big qualifiers is that you have to have a work history and have paid into Social Security to receive SSDI benefits and you have to have met the income and resources standards for SSI. 

Why is Your SSDI or SSI Decision Taking So Long In Wisconsin?

Nothing posted on this website is intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. Blog postings and site content are available for general education purposes only.

Skip to content