What is the Difference Between SSD and SSI?

SSD (social acuity disability) and SSI (supplemental security income) are both government-funded cash benefits for disabled people. However, they are very different. Before filing for benefits, it is silhouettes-812107_1280important to understand these differences.


  • Work – SSD is intended for those who have worked and paid into the program for a specific amount of time. SSI is for those who have either never worked or have not work long enough to meet the SSD work requirement.
  • Income – SSI is a need-based program. This means applicants income and assets are taken into consideration. In order to qualify, a disabled person must have less than $2,000 in assets. SSD does not take this into consideration.
  • Funding – SSI is funded by general fund taxes while SSD is funded by payroll taxes.
  • Payment – SSD payments are determined by how much an individual has paid into the program. SSI payments are typically lower. Payments are based on need and have a fairly low cap amount.
  • Dependents – SSI does not cover spouses or dependents. SSD does cover spouses and dependents. Meaning, a person on SSI who has a child will not see an increase in their payment. A person on SSD will receive more money to help with expenses for each dependent.
  • Health insurance – Those on SSI are eligible for Medicaid in the state in which they live. Those on SSD receive Medicare.

These are the primary differences between supplemental security income and social security disability. They are both governmental programs intended to help disabled people. The requirements to determine who is “disabled” are generally the same for both programs. In other words, it is not easier or more difficult to qualify as disabled under either program. Most people agree that SSD is the better program. It offers more benefits for both you and your family. However, if you do not meet the work criteria for SSD, SSI is always available if you meet the income requirements.

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