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Qualifying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Qualifying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

What is the difference between SSI and SSDI benefits?

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program was created in 1972 by the Social Security Amendments during the Nixon administration. It began serving the public in 1974. The SSI program is funded through the U.S. Treasury general fund, rather than the Social Security trust fund. Currently, over eight million Americans receive SSI benefits. For qualifying individuals, the SSI program offers much needed financial support. Our NYC Supplemental Security Income lawyers discuss the requirements to receive SSI and explore the differences between SSI and SSDI benefits below.

Eligibility for SSI Benefits

To receive SSI benefits, you must be aged 65 or older, or you need to be legally blind or disabled. The Social Security Administration defines disabled as having a medical condition that is expected to last for at least one year or result in death. Further, you must be unable to perform your previous occupation or complete other work due to your medical condition.

Additionally, you must be a person of limited resources in order to receive SSI benefits. SSI applicants must meet the “means test.” You need to have fewer than $2,000 in assets or $3,000 for couples and a limited income. Your income must fall below the limit in your state. SSI recipients will also be eligible to receive Medicaid, and most will also qualify for food stamps.


Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance are quite different programs, despite the fact that they are both run through the Social Security Administration. To receive SSDI benefits, you need to have earned a minimum number of work credits, meaning that you must have paid into the Social Security system during your career. SSI eligibility is not dependent on work credits and you need no work history.

To receive SSDI benefits, along with work history, you need to be under the age of 65 and be considered disabled. The definition of disability for purposes of SSDI benefits is the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity due to a physical or mental impairment that is expected to last over 12 months. An SSI and SSDI attorney can evaluate the circumstances surrounding your disability and income to determine what type of benefits for which you may be eligible.

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