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Since 1956, our Santa Barbara disability attorneys at Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld have worked tirelessly to ensure our California clients understand the critical details associated with their benefits so they understand the similarities, differences, and eligibility requirements for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) programs.

SSI and SSDI government programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) serve different purposes and have unique eligibility criteria.

Here, we discuss the critical differences between them.

What are the Different Eligibility Requirements for SSI and SSDI?

SSI is a need-based program designed to provide financial assistance to individuals with limited income and resources who are aged, blind, or disabled. Eligibility is not dependent on a person’s work history but on their financial need and disability status.

SSDI is an insurance program that benefits individuals who have paid into the Social Security system through their work history. To be eligible, you must have a qualifying work history and have a disability that meets the SSA's definition of disability.

What are the Different Financial Eligibility Requirements for SSI and SSDI?

Individuals must have limited income and resources to qualify for SSI. The SSA sets the income and resource limits, which vary by state. SSI is generally intended for individuals with very low income and few assets.

SSDI benefits are not based on financial need. Instead, they are calculated based on your work history and the Social Security taxes you have paid over time.

What are the Different Disability Onset Requirements for SSI and SSDI?

SSI benefits can be provided to individuals of any age with a disability that prevents them from working and who meet the financial eligibility criteria. There is no specific age requirement.

To be eligible for SSDI, the disability must have onset before age 65 and have a qualifying work history.

Do SSI and SSDI Benefits Extend to Family Members?

SSI benefits are typically provided to individuals, and eligibility is not extended to family members.

SSDI benefits can also provide auxiliary benefits to family members, such as dependent children and spouses, if the primary SSDI beneficiary meets specific criteria.

Are SSI and SSDI Recipients Eligible for Medicaid or Medicare?

SSI recipients may be eligible for Medicaid, which provides health insurance coverage.

SSDI beneficiaries become eligible for Medicare after a waiting period, typically 24 months from the date they are determined to be disabled.

Do You Have Questions About Your SSI or SSDI Eligibility?

Some individuals may be eligible for SSI and SSDI if they have a work history, but their SSDI benefit amount is low due to limited work credits. This combination of benefits is often referred to as “concurrent benefits.”

The rules and regulations for SSI and SSDI may change over time, so if you believe you may be eligible for either program or think you have been denied benefits, we can help.

We have six physical offices in Bakersfield, Fresno, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Ventura, and Visalia, and our top-tier technologies provide a virtual reach to serve clients throughout California. We offer free in-person, telephone, and virtual consultations to offer straightforward legal advice for your unique needs.

Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and options. 

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