Skip to main content

By Rhonda Romero, Public Affairs Specialist, SSA

The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides several federal benefits programs and resources to seniors and individuals with disabilities. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are two of the most common programs. SSDI pays disability benefits to you and certain family members who meet our definition of disability if you worked long enough – and recently enough – under Social Security. SSI provides critical financial help to aged, blind, and disabled people who have limited income and resources.

Key Factors in Receiving SSDI vs. SSI

What are the key factors in determining whether a person will receive SSDI versus SSI if they meet the requirements for both?  SSA states that an individual must have paid a certain amount of quarters in order to be insured to file for SSDI. If someone does not have enough quarters due to lower earnings, being under 18, or possibly has quarters, but their amount is below the SSI amount of $941 (2023), they are paid the highest benefit they are entitled.

When an individual first files, SSA screens for SSDI and SSI benefits. Someone may have enough quarters to file for SSDI, but also at the time of filing may qualify income for SSI. If the claim is approved, SSA determines which benefit is higher and pays accordingly. It can often be a combination of both programs to add up to $941 a month. SSA will typically give an estimate of benefit amounts when an individual is first filing and advise them which program they qualify for.

Learn more about Social Security Disability and 2023 Changes to Social Security.