Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income benefits are both disability programs, both administered by Social Security. So, what is the difference?
Social Security Disability Insurance, oir SSDI, is an insurance program that provides disability insurance. You become insured under this program by paying an insurance premium through Social Security withholdings out of your wages, or if you are self employed, through self-employment withholdings. It is just like you purchased a private disability insurance policy, but you are buying the insurance from the federal government. If you make enough payments, you become insured for benefits, and remain insured so long as you have paid the required amount over a period of time.
Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is based not only on disability, but financial need. In order to obtain SSI, you must prove that you are "disabled" as defined in the statute, just like with SSDI claims, but you must also meet financial needs tests. Social Security will first determine if you are disabled, and if you are, then looks at the non-disability requirements, like resources (what you own), and your income (not just money you earn, but benefits people provide to you). The rules about income and resources differ, depending on your living situation.
If you have applied for SSDI or SSI, or both, and have questions, call us at 503-325-8600. We work with people seeking disability benefits all the time.