SSI Vs. SSDI: Understanding The Difference So You Know What You're Suing For

Social Security provides a few different benefits for different reasons. Primarily, you know that SSA gives benefits to retirees, but there are disability benefits as well. If you are planning on pursuing disability benefits, you should know that they are very difficult to get without a disability lawyer's help. Additionally, there are two kinds of disability benefits, and you should know the difference before you pursue a lawsuit against SSA.


SSDI is "Social Security Disability Income." These benefits are directly tied to your past work history and the work credits you earned to get retirement benefits. What you would have received for retirement benefits based on these work credits is what you will receive monthly if you are eligible for disability benefits. You can check this amount by creating an online account with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and requesting a work credit review. 

Once your lawyer has secured your disability benefits and all back-payments have been made, your monthly payments begin regularly. SSDI is always paid on the 1st of each month. This is very different from how SSI is paid.


​SSI is "supplemental security income." It is paid ONLY to people whose income does not meet federal poverty levels and who already receive SSDI. If you apply for, and/or win your SSDI lawsuit, then you automatically receive SSI as well, so long as your income is too low to meet your needs each month. The amount is based on your current level of income, with the maximum amount not to exceed the preset amount by SSA. You can only receive the maximum amount for Social Security SSI if the total amount you receive in income is zero, or your adjusted monthly allowance for income is zero.

SSI benefits are also paid differently than SSDI. They are paid out on the date that directly correlates with the numbered system the SSA uses to determine when individuals will be paid. For example, if the eighth number in your social security number is "0", then your benefits are paid on the 3rd of each month. If that corresponding number is "1", then you are paid on the 4th, and so on. The system stops at "9", and these people are paid on the 11th. If you qualify for federal SSI benefits, then you also qualify for state SSI benefits. You do not need to apply for state SSI benefits either, and they are paid on the same day you receive your federal SSI benefits.