Deciding who is eligible for social security benefits is entirely dependent upon what type of benefits for which a claimant applies.
Social Security Disability Income benefits (SSD, or SSDI) are paid to those who are disabled and unable to earn a living. It is a federally managed program for those who have worked and contributed to the program to the extent that they are now able to receive income replacement benefits in the event that their significant physical or mental impairment has limited their ability to earn income.
To qualify for benefits, you must first have worked in jobs that allow you to contribute to the Social Security program. You must also be diagnosed with a medical condition that meets Social Security’s definition of “disability”. Next, it must be determined whether your impairment will result in your being disabled for at least one year.
If you’re determined to be disabled, then your benefits will continue until you are once again able to work. If your disability benefits continue past your maximum age of retirement, then your benefits will be converted to retirement benefits.
In determining whether you are disabled, the Social Security Administration will take into consideration the extend and severity of your illness or injury and the impairment that has resulted. They will also consider your work history, your daily limitations, and education.
If the Social Security Administration determines that you are not able to perform the same type of work that you have done in the past, and that you are unable to earn a living otherwise, then you will be found to be disabled.
Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI) are paid to those persons who are 1) blind, disabled or elderly and 2) have limited or no income. The benefits are paid to cover basic human needs such as clothing, food, and a place to live.
Although the funding for the program comes from a different source, and there is no requirement that the claimant has worked in the past, the determinations for ‘disability’ are the same as those used to determine disability for SSD benefits as discussed above.