When I write these posts I sometimes forget that a lot of people do not even know if they have a valid claim, have no idea what options are availble to them if they are disabled, and simply just do not have the slightest idea what social security disability is designed to do. With that said, this post will give you some of the basics in regard to social security disability.
Social Security disability is designed to provide financial assistance to those individuals who are "disabled". The term disabled as defined by the Social Security Administration is a term of art and has an explicit definition. Disability is defined as an inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by way of any medically determinable mental or physical impairment which is expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than one year. Social security disability is set up for those who cannot do their past work as a result of a mental or physical impairment considering age, education, and work experience to determine if this individual can engage in any substantial gainful activity that exists in the national economy, i.e. work that exists in significant numbers.
There are two types of programs afforded to assist those whom meet the above definition of disabled: Social security disability (SSD) and supplemental security income (SSI). In order to qualify for SSD, a claimant must meet the above definition of disabled and also have enough quarters of coverage, or work credits. Whether you know it or not, each time you receive a paycheck a portion of our money goes into the social security fund. In order to get that money you have contributed, you must have worked long enough and recently enough. The general rule of thumb for a typical social security claimant is five out of the past ten years before becoming disabled. This is the general rule and will be a good starting point for most individuals. There are different rules for claimants who become disabled at younger ages, but that can be reserved for another post. If you have enough credits and you are disabled, you would be eligible to receive monthly social security benefits.
Supplemental security income or SSI is quite different from SSD. An individual must be disabled as well as not exceed certain income, asset, or resource levels. This money comes from the general social security fund. How do you know if you exceed the allowable amount of resources? You can visit the Social Security Administration's website at www.ssa.gov/disability/ or you can talk to a qualified social security disability lawyer. But note there are several items that are excluded from this calculation, most significantly your home and one vehicle if that car or truck is used for work or getting medical treatment.
While there are several other differences, this is the main difference between the two programs. If you have other questions you might want to do some research on the internet or talk to a social security disability attorney.