The program names look the same, but there is a great deal of difference between Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). 

Our attorneys work hard to ensure clients receive the benefits for which they are eligible. Partly because both programs are administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), many people confuse the benefits available under SSDI and those from SSI. Consider these points: 

*        SSDI benefits are earned from your years spent in the workforce paying into the disability insurance program through employment taxes. Employment taxes are like an insurance policy in that you pay to ensure you receive financial assistance if you become disabled or blind after a sufficient period of work in the United States. 

*        SSI benefits are paid from general, not employment, taxes to disabled persons or those over 65 who are impoverished. Time spent in the workforce is not a requirement to receive SSI benefits, which are generally intended to provide for basic needs like food and shelter. 

*        Health benefits are available under both programs. After two years of receiving SSDI, you are eligible for Medicare coverage. Upon receiving SSI, a disabled person is immediately eligible for Medicaid. 

While SSI and SSDI both provide benefits, without sufficient work credits, a disabled person does not qualify for SSDI. Based on income and assets, a disabled person could still be eligible for SSI which can also provide access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), for help putting food on the table.