1 in 3 workers will die or become disabled before reaching retirement.

What would you do if you suddenly become unable to work?

Fortunately, our government created a system to help disabled workers and those whose disability prevented them from working at all. Most Americans don’t understand the benefits available to them.

Do you know the difference between SSDI and SSI? Keep reading to learn more about these disability benefits and what you need to know about your options if you become disabled and can’t work. 


SSDI stands for Social Security Disability Insurance. What is SSDI? SSDI provides benefits to workers who become disabled, allowing them to receive their retirement benefits early.

To qualify for SSDI, you must have a certain number of work credits. These are based on past employment that was considered taxable and covered by Social Security. When you paid taxes throughout your career to FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act), you were paying into the pot for these benefits.

This means that whether or not you qualify for SSDI benefits has nothing to do with your current income or assets. Your benefits amount is based on your past income. After you receive SSDI benefits for 2 years, you will automatically qualify for Medicare. 


SSI stands for Supplemental Security Income. What is SSI? These benefits are based on financial need rather than work history.

Benefits are awarded to both adults and children who qualify. Qualification is based on disability, blindness, income, and resources. Whether or not you qualify does depend on your current financial situation, income, assets, and resources.

The income caps for qualification differ in each state. To qualify for SSI, you must be a U.S. citizen and have medical proof that you have a disability that will last at least a year.

If you receive SSI, you will likely automatically qualify for Medicaid. 

What You Need to Know

SSDI vs SSI comes down to how you qualify. With both SSDI and SSI, the Social Security Administration will regularly check your medical records and your condition to confirm that you are still disabled. With SSI, your financial records will be reviewed on an annual basis.

It is possible to collect both SSDI and SSI. If you qualify for SSDI but your benefit amount is low, you should check whether you might qualify for SSI as well.

It’s recommended that you hire a Social Security Disability lawyer to help you navigate the application and appeals process. You can learn more at heardandsmith.com.

It’s common for claims to be denied the first time, forcing you to file an appeal. Having a lawyer on your side can help you get your benefits as soon as possible. 

Understanding the Difference Between SSDI and SSI

If you still don’t fully understand the difference between SSDI and SSI, don’t worry. You’re not alone!

Understanding these benefits and how to qualify isn’t easy. That’s why it’s best to talk to a lawyer.

For more legal content, check out the rest of our blog. 



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