Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits

In order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, every bullet point below must describe you:

  • You are too disabled to work
  • Your doctor expects your mental or physical disability to last at least a year or result in death
  • Doctor-provided medical records support your disability claim (evidence that shows you’re getting treated regularly for your condition)

The Social Security Administration manages two different programs that provide monthly disability benefits to eligible applicants. To see which one you may qualify for, the last thing the SSA checks is your work history and age.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
Your Current Age Any 18 - 64
Have you worked at least 5 in the last 10 years full-time and paid FICA taxes? No Yes
Unemployed 5 years, worked part-time/seasonal jobs or didn’t pay FICA taxes? Yes No

There are no resource limits to qualify for SSDI, but you can’t earn more than $1,180 in monthly income. Income and resource limits that determine your SSI eligibility are listed below.

Qualifying for SSI: Maximum Income and Resource Limits

Since SSI helps disabled individuals with little to no income, the SSA uses resource limits to decide who may qualify. Eligible SSI applicants must:

  • Have less than $2,000 in resources available to you individually ($3,000 for couples). Your home, vehicle, wedding rings, clothing, appliances and furniture don’t count towards your countable resource limits to qualify for SSI. However, the SSA does count cash, savings bonds, land, life insurance and anything else you can sell towards this limit.
  • Receive less than $750 in monthly income. This includes your non-wage earnings, like alimony, child support, dividends, earned interest and “free” housing or meals from family members.