Who Can Qualify for SSDI and SSI?

Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplement Security Income (SSI) both require a claimant or an applicant to have a qualifying disability as listed in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book of disability listings or have a similar disabling condition that affects the applicants’ ability to retain substantially gainful employment (SGA). For example, being a diabetic does not generally qualify a person for disability but having a serious complication of diabetes may be a qualifying diagnosis.

SSDI eligibility is to a large extent based on the applicant’s average lifetime earnings  and depend on contribution to Social Security through the FICA tax (under payroll deductions ). This means that the benefit will depend among other things on how much you were making when you were employed. To qualify for SSDI, you must have worked at least 5 of the past 10 years and it is relevant how recently you have worked and the duration you worked for.  The past earnings are calculated as work credits and the claimant must have sufficient work credits to qualify for SSDI. A worker is able to accumulate up to 4 work credits per year.

SSI eligibility does not depend on work credits but on the financial need of the applicant and is based on the applicant’s income level and value of assets. Exempted assets include your house of residence and your primary use vehicle. Assets used to determine eligibility for SSI include real estate holdings, bank accounts, savings, resources (less than $2,000 if you are single or $3,000 if married), stocks and bonds etc. Your monthly income, if any, cannot exceed the maximum federal base rate (this amount changes each year) in order to qualify for SSI.

SSI is designed to help the recipients with basic needs such as food and shelter and is reserved for low-income persons with few assets. Monthly SSDI benefits are typically two-to-three times greater than monthly SSI benefits.