When someone becomes unable to work due to injury or illness and goes out on disability, there may be sources of income replacement available through the State that you live in and/or the federal government. Only a handful of states have a State Disability Insurance Program, and the Social Security Administration provides federally funded programs to assist disabled workers.

State Disability Insurance Program (SDI)

Five states (California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island) and Puerto Rico, have State Disability Insurance (SDI) programs. These programs are designed to partially replace wages for workers who are very ill, injured off the job, and unable to work. If someone is disabled for less than one year, a state disability program may be the only source of disability benefits through a government entity.

In California, the Employment Development Department (EDD) provides short-term wage replacement benefits to eligible workers who have a loss of wages when they are unable to work due to a non-work-related illness, injury, or pregnancy.

The EDD will pay SDI for as long as you remain disabled, up to a maximum of 52 weeks.

Social Security Disability Income (SSDI)

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal program administered by the Social Security Administration. This program will pay benefits to a disabled person and certain family members if they are “insured,” meaning they have worked long enough, and recently enough, and paid Social Security taxes on their earnings.

In order to satisfy the definition of disability under the Social Security Administration’s rules, the person claiming to be disabled must have a medical condition that makes it such that you cannot do the work that you did before because of a medical condition, and you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition. Furthermore, the disability must last or be expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

A person’s financial status is not a factor in determining whether they qualify for SSDI. In other words, if a person satisfies all of Social Security’s criteria to receive SSDI benefits, the fact that they are financially secure does not play a factor in determining whether they are eligible for benefits.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is also administered through the Social Security Administration. The SSI program provides monthly payments to adults and children with a disability or blindness, and who have income and resources below specified amounts. A person may be able to receive SSI if their resources have a value that is $2,000 or less. A couple may be able to receive SSI if they have resources worth $3,000 or less.

SSI payments can also be made to people 65 and older without disabilities who meet the financial requirements for these benefits.

The bottom line is that to qualify for SSDI, you must meet the Social Security Administration’s criteria for disability. Whether you qualify for SSI depends on your income and resources. A person does not necessarily need to be disabled to receive SSI.


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