If you have a limited work history, resources, or income, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) could be a helpful means of financial support. SSI is considered a federal “needs-based program,” meaning it is available for those who demonstrate a financial need, have a disability that prevents gainful activity, or is blind. SSI is funded by general taxes rather than from the Social Security trust fund. The standard federal SSI payment is a set amount that changes yearly based on the Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA). Most people who receive SSI will also immediately qualify for Medicaid benefits. 

Who is Eligible for SSI?

The requirements for SSI are different from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Unlike SSDI, no previous work history is required for eligibility. However, there are financial parameters that must be met. You may be able to receive SSI benefits if you own less than $2,000 worth of total countable assets as an individual or $3,000 as a married couple living together. Countable assets include most anything of value in which you own except for your home and one vehicle. You may qualify for SSI benefits if you meet the financial requirements and if: 


To qualify for SSI, you must also be a resident of the United States or the Northern Mariana Islands. Non-citizens who lawfully reside in the U.S may also be eligible for SSI. 


What Medical Conditions Qualify for SSI?

Someone who is blind may qualify for SSI. According to the Social Security Administration, they define blindness as:

  • A vision acuity for distance of 20/200 or less in your better eye with correction such as glasses or contact lenses.
  • The visual field limitation in your better eye subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees.

As of 2020, the list of medical conditions that qualify for SSI have been updated and include the following:

  • Cancer
  • Musculoskeletal problems such as a back injury
  • Kidney disease and genitourinary problems
  • Cardiovascular conditions such as heart failure or coronary artery disease
  • Digestive tract problems such as IBD or liver disease
  • Senses and speech issues such as vision and hearing loss
  • Skin disorders such as dermatitis
  • Respiratory illnesses such as COPD or asthma
  • Immune system disorders such as HIV/AIDS, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Neurological disorders such as MS, Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, or epilepsy
  • Mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, or autism
  • Various syndromes such as Marfan Syndrome and Sjogren’s Syndrome
  • Hematological disorders such as disorders of bone marrow 

A more in-depth list for adults and children is available on the Social Security website.

Do I Need to Work to Qualify for SSI?

Some people may get confused about the difference between SSI and SSDI. There are work requirements necessary to qualify for SSDI, however, SSI recipients can be children or individuals who have never worked. Though, if you have worked during the last ten years, you could qualify for both SSI and SSDI and should get advice about what claim type to file. 

Can I Qualify for SSI Before Retirement?

Children and adults under the age of 65 may be eligible for SSI if they have a physical or mental disability. 

You may be considered disabled if:

  • Your medical condition keeps you from working
  • Your medical condition is expected to last 12+ months or result in death.   

Your child may be considered disabled if: 

  • Your child’s medical condition results in severe functional limitations
  • Your child’s medical condition is expected to last 12+ months or result in death. 

There are other non-medical rules that determine SSI eligibility. The Law Offices of Karen Kraus Bill offers free consultations for SSI claims. 

Speak with a Disability Attorney

If you have a limited income and a disability, you may be entitled to financial assistance through Supplemental Security Income benefits. Let the Social Security Disability attorneys at the Law Offices of Karen Kraus Bill help with your claim for disability benefits by contacting us today

You’ve worked hard all your life, but now you’re unable to continue working due to your declining health, or maybe you’ve reached an age where you simply can’t anymore. You might be wondering if you are eligible for Social Security disability benefits. Which type of claim is right for you? Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are disability benefit programs run by the Social Security Administration. The differences between these two programs can be confusing, so let’s discuss the major distinctions.

Social Security Disability Insurance

Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, is considered an “entitlement program” that is generally available to anyone who has paid into the Social Security system for the last ten years. These recipients are considered “insured” because they have made their contribution to the Social Security trust fund through paying FICA Social Security taxes. SSDI provides benefits to people who cannot work enough due to certain medical conditions or disabilities. The amount of SSDI payments vary based on the beneficiary’s earnings record. SSDI recipients are eligible for medicare.

Who Can Apply for SSDI?

To be a candidate for SSDI, a person must have earned a particular number of work credits and be under the age of 65. Generally, an eligible individual would need to have worked at least five out of the last ten years. Federal law has strict definitions of disability, stating that the medical condition causing the disability be one that is expected to last one year or more, or potentially result in death. People with short-term or partial disabilities would not qualify. 

Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is considered a “needs-based program,” meaning it is strictly for low-income American citizens and is funded by general taxes rather than from the Social Security trust fund. The standard federal SSI payment is a set amount that changes yearly based on the Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA). Additionally, most people who receive SSI will immediately qualify for benefits through Medicaid. 

Who Can Apply for SSI?

To meet the requirements for SSI, a person must have a very limited income and less than $2,000 in assets, or less than $3,000 for a couple. Most people who would qualify for SSI would also qualify for food stamps. Individuals over the age of 65 can qualify for SSI (regardless of their medical condition) if the income requirements are met. A person of any age, even children, can apply for SSI if they are disabled and have limited to no resources or income. 

Get Help Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits

It can be risky to apply for SSDI or SSI on your own. Many applications are initially denied due to mistakes or misinformation, unsuccessful attempts to collect medical evidence, and/or a failure to cooperate with the Social Security Administration. If your disability benefits application has been denied, we can help. There is a small window of time to appeal your denial, and statistics show you are more likely to get approved with the assistance of an attorney who is familiar with disability law.

Call Karen Kraus Bill

The Law Offices of Karen Kraus Bill has extensive experience handling disability law cases for SSDI or SSI. It is beneficial to have a skilled attorney on your side to help you get all of the necessary records in order to create the strongest application possible. We can also represent you during the appeals process if you were previously denied. We are ready to focus on winning your disability case so you can continue to take care of your health. Contact us today!