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Understanding SSDI and SSI in California

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are two distinct programs with different requirements.

Most people in California have heard about Social Security Disability even if they have not needed it themselves. However, one of the most commonly misunderstood facts about this form of assistance is that it is quite different from another form of public assistance-Supplemental Security Income. Understanding the difference between the two is important for all workers in California.

Social Security Disability Income

Sometimes referred to as SSD, SSDI or even Title II, this form of assistance is available to people who have worked and paid social security taxes over a period of time as noted by the Disability Benefits 101 website. These people can receive benefits if they become permanently disabled.

The California Department of Social Services website outlines the requirements to receive this form of help. It includes the following:

  • The diagnosis of a permanent disability. The disability must prevent the person from working in his or her prior job or any similar job commensurate with the training, education and experience of the worker.
  • For persons 23 years old and younger, at least six credits must be on record over a period of 36 months to be eligible.
  • For persons 24 to 30 years old, credits need to have been earned for at least half of the time from the age of 21 until the disability was identified.
  • For people 31 and over, credits are required for at least five years' worth of work over a span of 10 years up to the time that the disability was recorded.

In general, people must be earning at least $780 per month in order to qualify for SSDI benefits.

Supplemental Security Income

Commonly known as SSI, this form of assistance was created specifically for disabled, low-income people who do not qualify for SSDI benefits. The American Association of Retired Persons also notes that people over 65 with low incomes as well as those younger than 65 with qualifying disabilities and income levels can receive SSI. A review of a person's income and assets will be used to determine eligibility.

Disability Benefits 101 notes that SSI recipients can also receive benefits from the State Supplemental Program in California. These benefits are also only for those persons with limited resources.

How disabled people can obtain benefits

There are clearly stated procedures to follow when applying for either SSDI or SSI benefits. It is always advised for people making applications to work with a lawyer during the process.

Keywords: Social Security, disability, benefits