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Should I apply for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is meant for disabled people who are “insured,” which means that you have worked long enough and have paid Social Security taxes. To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, the Social Security Administration states that you must have earned 40 work credits, 20 of which must have been earned in the last five years. However, younger workers can qualify with fewer credits. Usually, if you are working full-time, you can earn up to four credits per year. Thus, you must have worked at least five of the last ten years in some kind of full-time work, unless you are under age 31.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) offers benefits based on financial need and does not have any employment requirements. SSI benefits are paid not only to disabled people who do not have much income, but also to blind and disabled children. To qualify for SSI benefits, you must meet the criteria outlined by the Social Security Administration (SSA). The amount you receive for SSI is determined by Social Security, but the income requirements depend on the state in which you currently reside.