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What’s the Difference Between SSDI and SSI?

The government is notoriously rife with acronyms. Some are well-known — FBI, CIA, DEA, ATF — and others, not as common. Even acronyms you hear with some regularity have a way of merging together, the lines and letters blending until you can hardly tell NASA and the FTC apart. SSD and SSI are only off by one letter, but they carry entirely different meanings. Young, Marr & Associates can help you determine which is best for you.

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 Who Can Qualify For SSI/SSDI?

First and foremost, the acronyms SSI and SSDI stand for completely different concepts. SSI refers to Supplemental Security Income, while SSDI refers to Social Security Disability Insurance. Both types of assistance fall to the Social Security Administration (SSA), which evaluates whether or not an individual qualifies.

There are myriad conditions that can qualify an individual. Impairments as varied as epilepsy, visual impairment, asthma, and burns are just a few of the health conditions listed by the SSA as potentially eligible disabilities.

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So What’s The Difference?

On their website, the SSA briefly describes the difference between the programs. “The Social Security Disability Insurance program pays benefits to you and certain family members if you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes. The Supplemental Security Income program pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources.

Let’s break down what that means for you.

First of all, you’ll need to apply for disability benefits. If you qualify for disability benefits, the payment you receive will be calculated differently depending on which program you’ve entered. In the SSDI program, the monthly amount you receive is calculated based upon your lifetime earnings, on average, prior to your disability affecting your work. With SSI, the monthly payment is based on need, and varies from state to state. The good news is that Pennsylvania is one of the states which offers a state supplement.

“Social security is only for the elderly,” is a common misconception that should be cleared up. While SSDI does carry the stipulation that the disability must have begun before the age of 22 was reached, both SSDI and SSI can in fact be granted to children and young adults.

Another key difference is that in the SSDI program, whatever the impairment, the expectation is that it will either:

  • last for a minimum of 12 months.
  • end in the recipient’s death.

Medical coverage is another area where SSDI and SSI take a divergent approach. With SSDI, the worker in question will automatically receive Medicare coverage after two years of receiving benefits. With SSI, on the other hand, the individual automatically receives Medicaid. (In Pennsylvania, dual eligibility is a possibility, as detailed by the Pennsylvania Health Law Project.)

Social security is a controversial and complex issue for millions of Americans. If you’re one of them, Young, Marr & Associates can help.


Before coming to Young, Marr & Associates, our SSD attorneys worked for the SSA which gives us an advantage over attorneys who have never dealt directly with the internal SSA system. We know the process is difficult – your job is to get better, and our job is to make sure you get the disability you deserve.

Chances are you are preoccupied dealing with a painful illness. You are concerned about your financial future, about how you will get by without a steady source of income.

Read what our clients have to say about us.


“I have already recommended Paul Young numerous times. He was honest, explained endlessly in terms that were understandable. Paul Young guided me through the process from beginning consultation to the end of case. Highly satisfied and grateful for his expertise.”


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