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The Difference Between SSDI and SSI Benefits

Going through the disability application process, you may come across several terms with multi-letter acronyms. That gets confusing fast. How do you know the difference between SSD and SSI and SSA? Fortunately, our Social Security/Disability lawyers are here to give a simple breakdown of the terms – and what they stand for – so the next time you encounter them you can stay informed. Knowing the terms ahead of time can help you ask the right questions of your legal team or avoid a costly delay in receiving benefits. Yes, it’s that important.

What is Supplemental Security Income?

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Supplemental Security Income or SSI is a need-based financial assistance program maintained by the federal government. Of course, the funds come from general taxpayer dollars, which means all those paying federal taxes pay into the program whether they want to, or not. SSI is a “means tested” program, meaning you must possess $2,000 or less in total assets and earn a very limited income. Qualifying for SSI may not mean you’re eligible for other forms of aid, though limited finances generally make it easier to obtain food stamps, insurance through Medicaid, and other assistance programs operated at the state level.

Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits

SSD or SSDI benefits come from the Social Security Administration funded through payroll taxes across the nation. Everyone who pays taxes from working contributes to the fund and may access it upon obtaining sufficient work credits and meeting other eligibility criteria, including suffering from a condition that limits their functional capacity for at least 12 months. After receiving benefits from Social Security Disability for two years, you may become eligible for health coverage under Medicare.   

This type of assistance is technically a form of insurance because every worker in the United States with sufficient working credits is “covered” under the plan. If you meet the criteria, you may begin receiving regular payments after the five-month waiting period has expired. The federal government imposes this waiting period for obtaining benefits on everyone – no exceptions. However, once payments begin, the first is usually a lump sum backdated to the original date of injury or qualifying illness, which can help you recover from any short-term financial consequences of going without aid.

Exceptions to Waiting Periods

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Did we say no exceptions? As always, there are circumstances that allow you to claim SSD benefits without a five-month waiting period. For example, if you were receiving payments from Social Security Disability, went back to work, only to become disabled once more, you won’t have to wait another five months. In addition, if you apply for benefits as the child of someone who is disabled, you won’t be subject to the waiting period.

Knowing the difference in these terms and how to apply them can be difficult. Hiring a team of seasoned legal professionals to handle your application for disability benefits can increase your chances for first-time approval, and provide you with a knowledgeable resource as your application moves forward. If you’re hurt, and cannot work, call our attorneys today to get the help you really need.


Before coming to Young, Marr & Associates, our SSD attorneys worked for the SSA which gives us an advantage over attorneys who have never dealt directly with the internal SSA system. We know the process is difficult – your job is to get better, and our job is to make sure you get the disability you deserve.

Chances are you are preoccupied dealing with a painful illness. You are concerned about your financial future, about how you will get by without a steady source of income.

Read what our clients have to say about us.


“I have already recommended Paul Young numerous times. He was honest, explained endlessly in terms that were understandable. Paul Young guided me through the process from beginning consultation to the end of case. Highly satisfied and grateful for his expertise.”


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