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Difference Between SSDI and SSI

There is a lot of confusion surrounding Social Security Disability benefits and how someone qualifies. In reality, eligibility criteria are not as complicated as it may at first seem. The Social Security Administration actually manages two different programs that provide benefits to people based on disability or blindness: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Although both SSDI and SSI provide benefits to people with disabilities and/or blindness that prevent them from being able to work, the qualification standards and benefit amounts available under each program are very different. At Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz, our Memphis Social Security Disability attorneys can assess your situation and determine which class of benefits you may be entitled to recover.

What Is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

SSDI is available to disabled or blind people who have previously paid into the Social Security trust fund. These payments are commonly referred to as tax payments that are typically withdrawn from workers’ paychecks. The contributions are based on a worker’s earnings as required by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) and can be used as SSDI benefits by virtue of Title II of the Social Security Act. In other words, if someone who is now disabled and unable to work has previously had a certain amount of “social security tax” deducted from his paycheck over a certain period of time, he or she would likely qualify for SSDI. In certain circumstances, a worker’s spouse or children may be able to benefit from the worker’s contributions to the Social Security trust fund.

SSDI beneficiaries qualify for Medicare health insurance coverage, as well as a monthly payment amount. The monthly payment amount is based on the worker’s lifetime average earnings covered by Social Security; however, the monthly payment amount can be offset by other disability payments the beneficiary receives, i.e. workers’ compensation or civil service disability benefits. SSDI payment amounts are typically adjusted every year to add cost-of-living changes. SSDI monthly payments can be made to dependents on a disabled person’s record. Our Social Security Disability attorneys regularly help residents of Memphis and surrounding areas in determining the appropriate amount of benefits to be awarded, based on the circumstances.

What Is Supplemental Security Income?

SSI benefits, which are funded by federal tax revenues, are available to elderly, blind, and disabled people who have less than a certain amount of income and resources. The amount of income and resources under which a person must have in order to qualify for SSI changes depending on whether the person is single or married. For a single person, the amount is lower than that of a married couple; however, the income a disabled person’s spouse earns counts toward the disabled person’s income. General federal tax revenues can be used for SSI benefits by virtue of Title XVI of the Social Security Act. Certain states also provide supplemental payments to their residents.

SSI beneficiaries qualify for Medicaid health insurance, as well as a monthly payment amount. The monthly payment amount is figured by taking the Federal Benefit Rate and subtracting your countable income and adding any state supplement, if applicable. SSI benefits are typically adjusted every year to add cost-of-living changes. Although it is possible to qualify for both SSDI and SSI, the SSDI benefits may be deducted from the SSI benefit as unearned income; this typically results in the total benefit amount being the same as if only SSDI payments were made.

Injured and Unable to Work? Contact Our Disability Lawyers in Memphis for a Free Consultation

If you have questions regarding whether you qualify for SSDI or SSI, please contact our Memphis lawyers today. At Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz, we understand that pursuing disability benefits is often a last resort for people who simply unable to carry out the demands of employment. The process of applying for Social Security Disability can be complex, which is why our team is here for you. To speak with a lawyer today to learn whether you may be entitled to recover federal disability benefits, call us at 800-529-4004 or complete our online form. Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz is a large regional personal injury law firm, fighting for the rights of those throughout Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Kentucky.

Our Memphis Offices

Main Memphis OFFICE

488 S. Mendenhall Road Memphis, TN 38117

Phone: 901-683-7000

Fax: 901-462-3350

Whitehaven Office

4466 Elvis Presley Blvd

Suite 143
Memphis, TN 38116

Phone: 901-300-2400
Fax: 901-462-3350


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Client Successes


Obtained in tractor-trailer accident case for a husband and wife that suffered traumatic injuries.


Recovered in car accident case against construction company in which our client suffered a traumatic brain injury.


Received for a woman injured in car accident while on the job, who sustained numerous fractures and underwent several surgeries.
Content Reviewer Box for A. Parker Trotz with his awards and credentials