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Social Security Administration

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability programs are the Federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. These two programs are different in many ways. Both are administered by the Social Security Administration. Only individuals who have a disability and meet medical criteria may qualify for benefits under either program.

Social Security Disability Insurance

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides benefits to individuals with disabilities who are "insured" by workers' contributions to the Social Security trust fund. These contributions are the "FICA" which are deducted from your paycheck or the earnings of your spouse or your parents. Title II of the Social Security Act authorizes SSDI benefits.

Social Security Income

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program makes cash assistance payments to individuals who are aged, blind, or have a disability (including children under age 18). This program is based on a family's need, considering both income and resources. The Federal Government funds SSI from general tax revenues. Title XVI of the Social Security Act authorizes SSI benefits.

When you apply for either program, Social Security will collect medical and other information from you and make a decision about whether or not you meet Social Security's definition of disability.

Work Incentives

Special rules make it possible for people with disabilities receiving SSDI or SSI to work and still receive a monthly payment. Different rules apply to each program. To learn more about going to work and Social Security see check out SSDI work incentives or the SSI work incentives.

Helpful information

Use Social Security's Benefits Eligibility Screening Tool to find out which programs you may be eligible for.

Another good source of information is the Benefit Calculator. With this you'll be able to estimate your benefit from Social Security.

The Red Book

The Red Book is a general reference source about the employment-related provisions of Social Security Disability Insurance and the Supplemental Security Income programs. It is for people with disabilities, parents, educators, advocates, rehabilitation professionals, and counselors who serve people with disabilities.

Need Assistance?

If you are currently receiving a check from Social Security and have concerns or questions, the Disability Law Center can help. The PABSS program (Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security) provides you assistance in working with Social Security and can advocate on your behalf.

For More Information

For more information regarding SSI and SSDI visit or call 1-800-772-1213 or TTY 1-800-325-0778.