What is SSDI and SSI?

Social Security Disability (SSDI) is for individuals who have severe impairments that have kept them, or will result in keeping them, from being gainfully employed for at least 12 months. SSDI is virtually the same benefit amount as full retirement.  In order to qualify for SSDI, you must be disabled for at least a 12 month period, and you must have also worked to earn enough “credits.”  The normal requirement is a total of 40 credits, 20 of which must have been earned in the 10 years prior to the onset of disability. A “credit” is earned each quarter when FICA taxes are taken out of your paycheck. Normally, this means that a person must have a fairly consistent work history and have worked (and paid Social Security taxes) for a combined five of the ten years prior to becoming disabled.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a supplement that is given on an as needed basis to those who are found to be disabled.  You can qualify for SSI even if you have not earned enough credits to qualify for SSDI. It is designed to help the elderly, blind, or disabled who have little or no income or work history.

A person seeking assistance through SSI for disability purposes still needs to prove disability in the same way as in SSDI.  The added requirement under SSI is that you have to prove that you have limited income and assets.   The SSI limits for the value of assets (excluding assets such as your primary residence, wedding/engagement ring, and one automobile) changes yearly and can be found at www.ssa.gov.