The Federal government’s Social Security Administration (SSA) offers two programs that pay disability benefits: the Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income program (SSI). Here’s how they compare:
- SSDI provides benefits to people who are blind or disabled, have worked, and have paid money into the Social Security trust fund. Their dependents can also get benefits. SSDI recipients get Medicare health insurance after a two-year waiting period.
- SSI is for people who are elderly, blind, or disabled, and who have limited assets and low incomes. SSI recipients automatically receive Medicaid health coverage.
Both SSDI and SSI offer special incentives to help you go to work. The incentives can make it safe for you to try working and gradually increase your income. Some incentives may help you even if you can only work a little. VocRehab recommends you work closely with a benefits counselor before using these work incentives.
Over time, your income may grow enough to allow you to get off benefits entirely — but this will be your own choice to make. Remember, you have your own unique needs and goals. That’s why it’s important to work with a benefits counselor who can help you plan and track any changes in your earnings and benefits.