Disability Insurance Programs

There are two types of disability insurance programs administered by the Social Security Administration that provide benefits to the disabled:  The Social Security disability insurance benefits program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.

Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB or SSDI).

The disability insurance benefits program is known as “Title II” of the Social Security Act.  Title II provides benefits to disabled individuals who are “insured.”  Insured individuals are those individuals who have paid Social Security tax on their earnings in five of the last ten years.  Benefit amounts are based on past taxable earnings.

The Title II program provides income benefits to insured individuals who have a severe medical problem that prevents them from working for one year or more.  Benefits are also available to the children of the disabled person.  Medicare benefits are also available to the disabled person and their children two years after their date of entitlement.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a Federal income program funded by general tax revenues (not Social Security taxes).  It is designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people who have little or no income.  It provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.  SSI recipients are also eligible to receive Medicaid.

SSI is available to all eligible people regardless of whether or not they have worked in the past.  The monthly maximum Federal amounts paid in 2016 are $733 for an eligible individual and $1,100 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse.  The monthly amount is reduced by subtracting monthly countable income.  (Link: What is countable income?)

SSI is known as “Title XVI” of the Social Security Act.  SSI provides benefits for people who have severe medical problems which will keep them from working for one year or more, but who do not have a sufficient work history and/or who have not paid enough quarters into Social Security to be considered “insured.”  In addition to meeting the medical criteria for disability, entitlement is also based upon assets and household income.

Dependent Benefits

Dependent benefits available through the Social Security Administration:

Survivors benefits are based on the earnings of the person who died.  Survivor benefits are available to the surviving spouse as early as age 50 if he or she is disabled and their disability started before or within seven years of the insured spouse’s death.

Children’s disability benefits.

There are three different ways children can collect Social Security or SSI disability benefits:

Low-income disabled children.

Disabled children whose families have low income can collect Supplemental Security Income (SSI) until they are 18, at which point they might be eligible to start collecting adult SSI benefits. Children who are approved for SSI disability can also receive Medicaid.

Children who don’t qualify for SSI.

Children who are younger than 18 (or 19 if a full-time student) and have a parent who is currently receiving Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Social Security retirement benefits may be able to collect dependents benefits based on their parents’ records, whether they are disabled or not.

Adults disabled since childhood.

Disabled children who are older than 18 but who became disabled before they turn 22 can collect disability benefits if they have a parent collecting Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Social Security retirement income.