Social Security pays benefits to people who cannot work because they have a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death. Federal law requires this very strict definition of disability. While some programs give money to people with partial disability or short-term disability, Social Security does not. The Social Security Administration administers two types of disability programs, Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). While the medical requirements for these programs are the same, there are important differences in the non-medical requirements. It is possible to be eligible for both programs.
In order to receive these benefits, the claimant must show that he became disabled prior to his “date last insured” (DLI). The DLI is determined by how much the claimant has paid in Social Security taxes. Generally speaking, if the claimant has worked five (5) of the last ten (10) years, he will be fully insured; the DLI typically expires five years after the claimant stops working.
In order to receive these benefits, the claimant must meet certain income requirements. Generally speaking, SSI is like a welfare program for the disabled. Those who have a limited work history or become disabled after the expiration of their DLI may qualify for SSI.
The medical requirements for these programs are identical. The claimant must show that he has an impairment so severe as to prevent him from performing any work for a period of at least twelve (12) consecutive months. Due to this durational requirement, it is advisable to wait until an individual has been out of work for at least six to eight months before applying.