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If you are injured, and in need of disability benefits, you’ve probably worked hard your entire life. When thinking about Social Security, you probably know two things: first, it helps retired and injured people; second, the rules to deciding who gets benefits are hard to understand. You’ve paid taxes out of your paycheck, and now you need the system to come through for you. How does it all work?

To better understand the Social Security Administration, you should be aware of the programs that provide supplement income: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Knowing the differences between the programs can better guide you when you’re in need of benefits.

Social Security Disability Insurance Basics

Eligibility for SSDI is based on your contribution history through employment. The money paid to you is funded by the payroll taxes that you and other workers across the country have paid. This program covers long-term disability that is expected to last at least one year.

If you have earned at least 20 quarters of coverage (QC’s) in the last 10 years, you are fully insured by SSDI. To earn a QC as of 2017, you must make at least $1,300 per quarter in each taxable year. You can earn up to four QC’s in one year.

There is a five-month waiting period to validate SSDI a long-term disability in you are not eligible to receive benefits, but if you are disabled for more than two years, you are automatically covered by Medicare.

Supplemental Security Income basics

Your eligibility for SSI is based on need. If you do not earn enough to be eligible for SSDI, you may apply for SSI. The amount you are paid in SSI benefits can be affected by other sources of income or resources including cash available in bank accounts and the value of your car. SSI also covers people over 65 years old, disabled workers and children.

Earnings vs. need

Now that you have a better understanding of each program, it is time to work with a professional who can help you with your claim. The paperwork process is complicated and proving a disability can sometimes be even more challenging. That is why injured workers can rely on a local disability attorney to provide trustworthy advice when it is needed most.