The government has a host of different assistance programs, meant to help a variety of people in need. Two of the most well-known programs are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Both of these programs assist persons living with disabilities. However, they have several fundamental differences. According to the AARP, SSDI is for those who have a work history and are living with disabilities that prevent them from continuing to work. SSI is a safety net program that has no connection to a person’s work history.
You must “earn” SSDI benefits. It is very similar to Social Security retirement benefits: you earn qualification by working and paying into Social Security taxes. The length of time you must work to attain eligibility for SSDI depends on how old you are when you sustain disability. The amount that the government pays you also depends on the length of your work history.
On the other hand, it is possible for the government to award SSI to a person who has no work history whatsoever. However, SSI has strict caps for how much you may hold in assets. If you have too much money in investments, bank accounts or other resources, the government may deem you ineligible for SSI.
In the case of both SSI, the disability must prevent an individual from working for at least a year. It is possible to collect both SSI and SSDI, but this is rare. The Social Security Administration uses the same medical criteria and process to determine eligibility for both SSI and SSDI.
If you apply for either of these programs, remember that it is very common for the government to deny the first application.