There are several types of disability benefits offered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Most people applying for disability benefits are eligible for either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), but the SSA also offers benefits for adult children (either SSI or SSDI paid on the parents’ working record) and widow(er)s.
Studies have shown that nearly 3 in 10 workers who begin working in their 20s will need some type of disability benefits before they reach retirement age. Sometimes these benefits are temporary. Other times, people receive disability benefits for life.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
Social Security disability insurance is intended to help people who used to work, but now are unable due to an illness or injury, described as a disabling condition. The list of disabling conditions includes both physical and mental conditions. Some are temporary and others are chronic.
SSDI doesn’t depend on any other sources of income you may have, just on how long you have worked and the type or degree of your disability. To qualify, you must have worked at least ten years in your life, and that some of that work must have been within the last ten years. If you do not apply close enough to the time you become disabled, you risk becoming ineligible for SSDI disability benefits.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
SSI is based entirely on your income. If you earn less than a certain amount, about $1000 a month, you qualify for SSI. In order to qualify for SSI, you also have to be:
- 65 or older
SSI is intended to ensure that people in these situations have enough income to meet their basic subsistence needs of food, shelter, clothing, and other necessities.
Benefits can also be paid to the widow or widower of someone receiving disability benefits. In general, you are eligible to receive benefits if you are:
- Over age 60 (partial benefits) or full retirement age (full benefits)
- Over age 50 and disabled
- Caring for the children of the deceased spouse
Often these survivors’ benefits are used only temporarily until people are able to shift over to their own retirement benefits. Of the nearly 3 million applications for disability benefits filed every year, less than 50,000 are for survivors’ benefits.
Benefits for Disabled Adult Children
Disability benefits are also available for adult children who are age 18 or more and became disabled before reaching the age of 22. Usually, this is for people who became disabled as children before working, but it can also be used for people who begin working, but become disabled before they are able to earn their own eligibility. Of the nearly 3 million applications for disability benefits filed every year, only about 100,000 are for adult children.
Which Benefits Are Right for You?
If you are unsure which type of disability benefits you may qualify for or want to apply for, we can help with a free evaluation of your eligibility.