Social Security Comparisons

A comparison of SS, SSI, and SSDI


There are distinct social security comparisons to keep in mind. While many people do not distinguish between SS (Social Security), SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), they are completely different governmental programs. While the all of these programs are overseen and managed by the Social Security Administration, and medical eligibility for disability is determined in the same manner for both the SSI and SSDI programs, there are distinct social security comparisons to keep in mind and differences to consider.

What is SS?
Social Security is part of the retirement plan for almost every American worker. It provides replacement income for qualified retirees and their families. The number of Quarters you worked will determine what your Social Security payment will be in the end. The Social Security deductions from each worker’s paycheck each pay period pays for this retirement income supplied by the Social Security Administration. Almost every worker will receive Social Security Benefits in retirement. Depending upon the age you start to claim your Social Security Benefits will determine how much you will end up receiving. You my apply as early as 62 years of age or wait until after 70 years of age. To Learn more about his, you can go to

As mentioned, the age you begin collecting your retirement benefit affects how much you will receive. There are three important things to know about age when thinking about when to start your benefits.

  • Full Retirement Age – Full retirement age is the age when you will be able to collect your full retirement benefit amount. The full retirement age is 66 if you were born from 1943 to 1954. The full retirement age increases gradually if you were born from 1955 to 1960, until it reaches 67. For anyone born 1960 or later, full retirement benefits are payable at age 67.
  • Early Retirement Age – You can get Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62. However, your benefit is reduced if you start receiving benefits before your full retirement age.
  • Delayed Retirement Age – When you delay collecting benefits beyond your full retirement age, the amount of your retirement benefit will continue to increase up until age 70. There is no incentive to delay claiming after age 70.
Social Security Comparisons


Both SSI and SSDI disability programs are separate from regular Social Security, and offer cash benefits for disabled individuals, but the financial eligibility requirements are very different.

The main difference between Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is the fact that SSDI is available to workers who have accumulated a sufficient number of work credits, while SSI disability benefits are available to low-income individuals who have either never worked or who haven’t earned enough work credits to qualify for SSDI.

What Is SSI?
Supplemental Security Income is a program that is strictly need-based, according to income and assets, and is funded by general fund taxes (not from the Social Security trust fund). SSI is called a “means-tested program,” meaning it has nothing to do with work history, but strictly with financial need. To meet the SSI income requirements, you must have less than $2,000 in assets (or $3,000 for a couple) and a very limited income.

Disabled people who are eligible under the income requirements for SSI are also able to receive Medicaid in the state they reside in. Most people who qualify for SSI will also qualify for food stamps, and the amount an eligible person will receive is dependent on where they live and the amount of regular, monthly income they have. SSI benefits will begin on the first of the month when you first submit your application.

SSI applicants are somewhat more likely to be female as fewer women are eligible for SSDI benefits (about 71% of women compared to 79% of men), generally because women have fewer qualifying years of work (over 60% of men have worked at least part of every year of their adult life, while only 41% of women can say the same).

What Is SSDI?
Social Security Disability Insurance is funded through payroll taxes. SSDI recipients are considered “insured” because they have worked for a certain number of years and have made contributions to the Social Security trust fund in the form of FICA Social Security taxes. SSDI candidates must be younger than 65 and have earned a certain number of “work credits.” After receiving SSDI for two years, a disabled person will become eligible for Medicare. If you have a child or family qualified family member on SSDI, and you have utilized the Medi-Cal long term care benefits, the state will not seek reimbursement by coming after your home or other assets after you have passed away. This person need not be living in your home to receive this protection.

Under SSDI, a disabled person’s spouse and children dependents are eligible to receive partial dependent benefits, called auxiliary benefits. However, only adults over the age of 18 can receive the SSDI disability benefit.

There is a five-month waiting period for benefits, meaning that the SSA won’t pay you benefits for the first five months after you become disabled. The amount of the monthly benefit after the waiting period is over depends on your earnings record, much like the Social Security retirement benefit.

Approval rates for SSDI are higher on average than they are for SSI. There are a number of possible reasons for this. First, SSDI are more likely than SSI applicants to have a higher income and insurance coverage, which means they are more likely to have seen a doctor for their medical problems. (It is very difficult to win an award for disability without seeing a doctor regularly.) Also, judges and claims examiners give more credibility to applicants who have a long work history, which most SSI applicants do not have.

To learn more about social security comparisons, contact us for a free consultation today.

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