SSDI vs. SSI: Which Is Better for You?

Every month, 65 million Americans receive a Social Security benefit.

While there are several programs that provide Social Security benefits, there are two that are more common than others. These are SSDI and SSI.

These two programs vary in their eligibility criteria as well as their value. To save yourself time and effort, you need to know these criteria before applying for either program.

Keep reading to learn more about SSDI vs SSI and what program is right for you.


There are a number of federally-run Social Security benefits programs intended to provide financial help to seniors as well as people with disabilities. Two of the largest of these programs are Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).


SSI is a program for older Americans and people with disabilities who have limited income and resources. It provides a minimum basic financial assistance.

SSDI is only for disabled individuals. These individuals must have a work history that allows them to qualify for the program. Alternatively, they may seek these benefits under the work history of a family member such as a spouse or parent.

Which Financial Assistance Program Is Best for You?

The main difference between SSDI vs SSI is the eligibility criteria.

To be eligible for SSI, you need to meet age or disability criteria and have a limited income. Specifically, you must be 65 years of age or older, or be blind or disabled, and have limited to no income or resources.

To be eligible for SSDI, you must be disabled and have sufficient work credits. Disability is defined as a physical and/or mental impairment that prevents an individual from having a normal occupation or any substantial work and which is expected to last for at least 12 months. In addition, you must have sufficient work credits through either your own employer or through a family member.

You don’t usually get to choose which program is best for you. In order to qualify for either, you must meet these eligibility requirements. However, if you have limited income and work credits, you might qualify for both programs.

How to Apply for SSDI vs SSI

If you’re 18 years of age or older and have a disability, you can apply for SSI online. People who are applying on behalf of a child under the age of 18 and non-disabled seniors have to apply at their local Social Security office or by calling the toll free number. The professionals at can also help you apply for this program.

If you’re applying for SSDI, you can do so online or by calling the Social Security toll free number. You can do this at any age.

Deep Dive Into More Law-Related Topics

When comparing SSDI vs SSI, the main difference are the eligibility criteria. While SSDI requirements involve disabilities and work credits, SSI involves age, disability, and limited income/resources. While it’s possible you may qualify for both, most people only qualify for one.

And for more law-related topics, especially in regard to elder law, be sure to check out our family law section regularly.

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