Understanding various terms used when one applies for disability can become confusing very quickly. Social Security Disability and SSI are two separate programs. First, Social Security Disability payments are based on prior work history as well as some disabling condition. SSI is based on financial need and a disabling condition. The financial requirements for each are different but the disabling condition requirements are the same.
Social Security Disability Insurance, also known as SSDI, is financed through the payments received from every worker and employer at each pay check. SSI, Supplement Security Income, is paid through a general fund and does not affect the Social Security Disability finances. For one to receive Social Security Disability one must have enough credits earned through working or have been disabled since birth. For SSI payments, anyone who is disabled and has a financial need will receive payments.
The amount of payments under both programs will vary based on financial need and available resources. SSI is paid to children and adults who have a disabling condition when they meet the financial guidelines and other conditions. Social Security Disability however does not look at the financial need or available resources. Instead the payments are based on the amount the worker received throughout their career and are unable to earn now due to a disabling condition. SSI is limited to a specific maximum amount whereas Social Security Disability payments are limited only by the earnings of the worker in the past.
It is important to bear in mind that not all conditions are considered to be disabling and there are many criteria that must be met for either program. When a person qualifies for payments under either program, they are likely to be required to undergo testing by the government to determine their disability.