Supplemental Social Security Income (SSI)

Supplemental Security Income is for low or no-income individuals.  It provides money for basic needs. SSI, at its core, is a welfare program for the disabled.  An individual must have less than $2,000 in assets.  A married couple must have less than $3,000 in assets.  When calculating the assets for a married individual, SSA will count the working spouse’s income toward the $3,000 asset limit.

Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB)

The key word for this program is “insurance.”  To qualify for this insurance program, generally you must have worked a minimum of five years within a ten-year period, paying taxes into Social Security.  If you have not worked the equivalent of five full-time years, or you have not paid into the system, you will not qualify for this benefit. 

DIB can get complicated.  Two important questions when looking at DIB benefits are (1) have you worked long enough to qualify for the insurance; and, (2) when does your disability insurance expire.  Just like car insurance, once you stop paying for it, you will eventually stop being insured.

Any disability insurance you qualify for through working and paying into the system will typically lapse 5 years after you stop working.  To qualify for DIB, you must prove you met the rules of disability before your disability insurance lapses.  These timeframes are calculated for each individual based on his/her specific work history.

Disabled Widow(er) Benefits (DWB)

If you are a disabled widow(er) age 50 or older you may be able to receive benefits based off how much your spouse (or former spouse’s) paid into Social Security, regardless of whether you have worked yourself.

Your spouse needs to have earned a minimum of 40 credits (40 credits is 10 years of work) from working in jobs that pay Social Security taxes.  You may be entitled to benefits even if you were divorced from your spouse when he or she passed.

Child Benefits

Your child, younger than age 18, can qualify if he or she meets Social Security’s definition of disability for children, and if his or her income and resources fall within the eligibility criteria.  In many ways this program was designed similarly to SSI. The child must have a physical or mental condition, or a combination of conditions, that result in “marked and severe functional limitations”. This means that the condition(s) must very seriously limit your child’s activities.

Disabled Adult Child Benefits

Disabled Adult Child Benefits go to the children of persons who are deceased, or who are drawing Social Security Disability or Retirement benefits.  You must prove that the adult child’s disability began on or before the child’s 22nd birthday.