If you are disabled, you can receive help from the government in the form of SSDI or SSI. These two programs help disabled citizens pay for their basic needs. However, the two have different criteria for who to award money to and what you might be eligible for.

SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) is an entitlement program that you can access if you have worked before and paid into Social Security retirement benefits. The program allows you to access those benefits early because you have become disabled. SSI (Social Security Income) is for people who are in special financial need and are disabled. Because this program is funded completely by general taxes, there are stringent requirements that one must fulfill in order to receive it.

Here are some of the main differences between SSDI and SSI:


  • Funded through payroll taxes.
  • Available to qualified people who have worked for a certain number of years and contributed to the Social Security trust fund through FICA Social Security taxes.
  • Earned after receiving a certain number of “work credits"
  • No maximum asset amount requirements.
  • Must be disabled for a five-month waiting period before receiving benefits.
  • Must be younger than 65 to qualify.


  • Funded by general fund taxes.
  • Based on financial need.
  • Awarded according to low income and low assets—does not deal with work history.
  • Can receive benefits instantly once approved.
  • No dependent benefits.
  • Must be blind, disabled, or 65 or older to qualify.

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SSDI (Social Security Disability Income) & SSI (Social Security Income) Explained

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