The federal government has two types of social security disability programs: The first is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and the other is the Supplemental Security Income Program (SSI). Although both programs are similar, they have several differences.
Both programs define disability in a similar manner. You are considered disabled for purposes of Social Security if you:
- Cannot do the same work that you did previously;
- You cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition; and
- Your disability is expected to last at least one year or result in death.
Neither program provides benefits for partial disabilities or for short term disability. You may need to look to other programs for these type of benefits, such as workers’ compensation or other insurance options.
Criteria for SSDI
SSDI requires that you contribute to the Social Security system for a certain amount of time before you can withdraw benefits. The work must be both recent enough and long enough to qualify.
Each year, you can earn four work credits toward Social Security benefits. Each credit requires a certain dollar amount. For example, in 2015, each credit is valued at $1,220 of wages or self-employment income.
You usually need 40 credits to qualify for SSDI. Twenty of those credits must have been earned in the 10 years prior to the disability. Younger workers, however, may be able to qualify with fewer total credits. The amount of monthly benefit depends on your earning history.
Criteria for SSI
In order to qualify for SSI, you do not need to earn work credits like SSDI. Instead, SSI only applies when you become disabled, blind, or over age 65. You should have few resources and lower income to qualify. The qualifications will vary by each state because the cost of living varies in each geographic area.
You can apply for SSI online or by calling to set up an appointment with a Social Security representative. The amount of monthly benefits will vary based on what the government determines you need.
How a Social Security Attorney Can Help
Sometimes it can be difficult to determine if you qualify for benefits under SSDI or SSI. An experienced social security attorney can help you determine if you qualify and can help you go through the application process.
He or she can also help if your initial application has been denied and you need to file a reconsideration or an appeal. To get started, call a knowledgeable social security disability attorney today.