How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

The Qualification Criteria for Social Security Disability

There are two separate disability programs from which you can draw benefits: The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.

Both programs are meant to provide a source of income to those who are unable to work due to their disability, and both are administered by the federal social security administration (SSA). However, the qualifications that an applicant must meet before being approved for disability under each program are different.

SSDI is really a form of disability insurance, and is covered by title II of the Social Security Act. It is meant to function much as any private insurance coverage would, in that you pay a certain “premium” (in this case it’s automatically taken out of your pay check FICA taxes) to collect a certain benefit (disability benefits) should you need it.

However, SSDI doesn’t fully cover everyone that works or has worked in the past; only those who have worked enough in the last 10 years. If you are 31 or older, in order to qualify for full SSDI coverage, you have to have earned at least $21,000 over the last 10 years; and a total of $42,000 since you began working.

Of course, nothing in government can be easy, so it’s important to note that the SSA doesn’t calculate earnings in dollars, but rather in work credits. As of 2008, you get 1 work credit for every $1,050 you earn in three consecutive months, so the amount the SSA credits you can receive each year is capped at 4 ($4,000) work credits per year. The dollar amount associated with 1 work credit is recalculated by SSA each year for inflation. If you have not earned this amount, you will not qualify for full disability coverage under the SSDI program, but may be eligible for SSI benefits.

SSI is provided for under title XVI of the Social Security Act, and this disability program is for disabled individuals who have not worked enough to qualify for SSDI and who can demonstrate financial need. To qualify for SSI you do not have to have earned any work credits, but you do have to prove that your total assets do not exceed $2,000 ($3,000 if you are married) with the exception of one car and your home. In some cases social security will allow you to collect SSI for a few months while you try to sell some of your excess assets, such as an extra car or other property that is in your name (other than your residence).

It is possible to be approved for both SSDI and SSI. SSDI payments are based on the amount you have earned, so those who have worked a short time or with a history of lower incomes may be eligible for only a small SSDI benefit, and, if there is an economic need, may collect SSI benefits as well.

Both SSD and SSI programs award benefits only to those who are unable to participate in SGA (substantial gainful activity) due to a severe medical impairment, be it physical or mental. SGA equates to a specific earnings limit per month, so if you are able to earn more than that you will not qualify for any type of disability benefits. In addition, both SSD and SSI require that your medical condition is not expected to improve with medical treatment over a period of not less than one year.

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related pages:

Who qualifies for disability? - Qualifying is based on evidence of functional limitations
How to qualify for disability - The Process of Qualifying for Benefits
To qualify for Social Security Disability or SSI, how severe must a condition be?
Can You Qualify for Disability if you did not work much?
How Do You Qualify For Disability without Money To Go To the Doctor?
The Qualification Criteria for Social Security Disability
What If You Did Not Work Long Enough To Qualify For Disability?
Qualifying for disability benefits with the social security administration
Qualifying for Disability - What is Social Security Looking for?
Do You Qualify For Social Security Disability Insurance?
What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?
Do You Have To Qualify For SSI Financially?
How does work qualify you for disability? (work credits)

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

Permanent Social Security Disability

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

Who is eligible for SSI disability?

Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?

For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.