Skip to Content
Seasoned Sacramento Injury Attorneys

SSDI & SSI: What's the Difference?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers two types of disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Although both programs supplement the income of those who are not able to work because of a medical disability, SSDI and SSI serve two distinct demographics. Our Sacramento Social Security Disability Attorneys explain what you need to know about the difference between SSDI and SSI.


The main difference between the two is eligibility. SSDI is only available to those who have “paid into” the system via taxable income. On the other hand, SSI is considered a safety net for those who do not qualify for SSDI and have limited means.

Simply put, SSDI is meant for individuals who used to work but no longer can due to physical or mental impairment, while SSI assists low-income individuals who have not worked enough to earn the credits required to be eligible for SSDI.

SSDI candidates need to be younger than 65 years of age and have earned a certain number of “work credits.” Once an individual receives SSDI for two years, he or she will become eligible for Medicare. Additionally, a disabled person’s spouse and children dependents are eligible to receive partial dependent benefits, known as auxiliary benefits. Keep in mind, there is a five-month waiting period for SSDI benefits, so an eligible person won’t get paid for the first five months after he or she becomes disabled.

Disabled people who are eligible under the income requirements for SSI are also eligible to receive Medicaid. Most people who qualify for SSI will also qualify for food stamps, and the amount a disabled person will receive depends on where they live and the amount of monthly income they have. SSI benefits will start on the first of the month when the application is submitted.

SSDI claims have a higher chance of being approved the first time around than SSI applications. However, both allow for applicants to appeal an application they believe was wrongfully denied.

For more information about Social Security benefits, contact our Sacramento workers’ compensation attorneys at Smolich and Smolich today.