What is the difference between Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income?

If you or someone you love are disabled, you may be eligible to receive financial assistance through the Social Security Administration. But before applying for disability benefits, you need to understand the difference between the two programs offered: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

What is SSDI?

This program allows adults who have worked in the past but become disabled to receive their Social Security retirement benefits early. To qualify for this program, you need to have enough “work credits” based on taxable employment. These work credits are based on the amount of money you have earned while working. As a general rule, you must have worked for five years out of the last ten years to qualify. The amount of benefits you receive will depend upon how much money you earned while working.

What is SSI?

This program is available for either adults or children who are disabled, blind or have limited income or resources. The only way that a disabled person can receive SSI benefits is if they can prove that they have few financial resources and assets and very low income. This program is based strictly on need, and has nothing to do with your work history (unlike the SSDI program). You should be aware that to qualify for SSI, you must present evidence that your disability will last for at least one year – and your medical records will be checked from time to time to ensure that you are still disabled.