Are Social Security and SSI the Same Thing?

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Social Security benefits replace a portion of your lifetime earnings when you retire, develop a qualifying disability or go to your spouse, children or survivors after you die. Unlike Social Security benefits, the Social Security Administration distinguishes that Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is not based on your work earnings or a family member’s work.

See: How Much Does a Person on Social Security Make?
Related: 7 Surprisingly Easy Ways To Reach Your Retirement Goals

Many people who are eligible for SSI may also be eligible for Social Security benefits, as both share the same application. However, SSI is a needs-based program for those with limited income and resources and is financed by the general funds of the U.S. Treasury — personal income taxes, corporate and other taxes. Social Security taxes do not fund the SSI program.

Here are some of the biggest differences between Social Security benefits and SSI, according to the SSA:

Social Security

Retire Comfortably


It is worth noting that despite their difference, Social Security and SSI do have a few similarities, including that they are paid monthly and that the medical standards for disability are practically identical for both programs (at least for individuals age 18 or older).

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