The Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs are the largest of several Federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. While these two programs are different in many ways, both are administered by the Social Security Administration and only individuals who have a disability and meet medical criteria may qualify for benefits under either program.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
This program pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you become disabled or have enough work credits, meaning that you have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes. Credits are based on earnings, up to a maximum of four per year. The number of work credits you need to quality for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.
If you have not worked or do not have enough credits and become disabled or reach retirement age, this program pays benefits to cover basic needs, such as food, clothing and shelter based on the individual's financial need, up to a maximum allowable amount.