How Do I Know if I Qualify for Social Security Disability?

A long-term injury or disability can be incredibly difficult to manage and adjust to, especially if you’re unable to work. If you’re used to being self-sufficient or a provider for others around you, it can be hard to come to terms with your new limitations. The good news is that there are options. If your medical condition prevents you from working and earning money, there’s a good chance you may be able to qualify for social security disability, which will give you at least a basic income to live on.

When people talk about applying for disability, they’re usually referring to one of two government programs: Social Security Disability Income and Supplemental Security Income. The primary difference is that SSDI is for individuals who have a documented work history, while SSI is for people with lower incomes or insufficient work history to qualify for SSDI. Each has their own requirements for qualifying.

Applying for SSDI

Social Security Disability Income is a benefit you’ve earned in advance because of your contributions to social security over time through the taxes on your paychecks. Based on how much money you’ve paid into the system, you can get some of it back to replace the income you would be earning if you weren’t dealing with a disability. The requirements for the number of years you’ve worked and contributed to the system depend on how old you are. If you are older, you’ll need a more extensive work history from before your disability. Check the requirements to see if you qualify.

Then your medical condition is going to have to match the Social Security Administration’s standards for disability and impairment. The SSA keeps records of different medical conditions and the severity necessary for SSDI approval. You’ll need to provide evidence, including medical evaluation, that shows your condition restricts you from working, or at least from doing the work that you used to do. Approval for SSDI also requires that your income not be above a certain level. To qualify, you’ll have to make no more than $1,000 or $2,000 a month, depending on some other factors.

Applying for SSI

Supplemental Security Income is a similar program to SSDI, but it is designed more for low-income individuals restrained by disabilities, even those that have not regularly worked in their lives. There is no requirement that you have paid into the system before to be eligible.

As far as medical requirements go, adults with disabilities need to meet the same requirements as those listed for SSDI. Children with disabilities can separately receive SSI, however, and there are separate standards for children to measure their level of impairment. But regardless of the listed requirements, you may be able to prove your disability with a medical exam showing that you’re incapable of doing regular, full-time work. The maximum income level allowed for someone to qualify for SSI is also lower than that set for SSDI eligibility. It can take some research to be sure if you qualify, but it’s worth a try, even if you’re not certain.

David Jackson

David is a personal finance expert, a professional male model, and an entertainment writer.