What is the difference between Social Security Disability (often called SSD or SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
Simply put, SSDI is a Social Security program that covers people if they become disabled after working for enough time to get covered by the system. For each year you work and pay taxes, you get credits based upon the amount of wages you report on your tax return.
To be covered for SSDI, a person has to have earned 20 out of the last 40 credits. Essentially, that means the person had to earn work credits for half of the last 10 years. SSDI covers anyone, as long as they have enough credits, so the amount of assets you have does not impact whether you can get Social Security Disability.
SSI, on the other hand, is an indigent (financial needs-based) program. SSI is also a disability program, but it pays benefits only if the applicant is BOTH disabled and they have limited assets and limited income coming into their household through family members. To qualify for SSI Disability, a person not only has to prove they are disabled, but also has to prove they have limited assets.
It is possible to get both SSDI and SSI at the same time. If one’s SSDI payment is very low because of low wages reported on past tax returns, they may also get a p partial SSI payment to get them up to a the SSI payment level.