The U.S. Social Security Administration administers the Social Security Disability Insurance program and it also administers the Supplement Security Income program. Although these programs are similar, they are also vastly different. The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is means-based and limited to disabled, blind, or elderly individuals with very limited assets. SSI benefits help low-income elderly, blind, or disabled individuals. However, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is not income-based. SSDI recipients must establish a sufficient amount of work credits to qualify for benefits. Typically, recipients must have worked at least two years to claim benefits. In contrast, SSI helps low-income elderly, blind or disabled individuals without sufficient work earnings to qualify for SSDI benefits.
SSDI generally allows recipients to claim larger monetary monthly disability benefits than SSI recipients may claim. However, SSI recipients may also receive health care benefits, including assistance through the federal Medicaid program jointly administered with states. Another important distinction is that SSDI recipients are eligible for survivors’ benefits, while SSI recipients are not. Thus, if you are a child of a deceased parent entitled to SSDI benefits, you may be able to receive survivors’ benefits by applying for them through the U.S. Social Security Administration. If you are a child of a deceased parent previously receiving SSI benefits, you will not be able to apply for and receive SSI survivors’ benefits.