Social Security payments don’t just cover seniors, they cover the disabled as well. Both the Supplementary Security Income (SSI) and the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments can be attained by having a disability, but both have different requirements. A recipient can have both payments at once, if they satisfy both criteria.
The SSI is the simpler to attain, being designed to provide financial assistance for seniors or people with disabilities who have a limited income. Most state have their own support programs to assist people on SSI benefits.
To qualify for the SSDI individuals must be registered as disabled, using the list below, and must also satisfy certain work history requirements. Bear in mind that family members working (spouse or parent) can also be used to satisfy the requirements, which would be difficult for many to achieve who are born disabled.
List of impairments
- Musculoskeletal disorders, such as amputation, chronic joint pain and spinal disorders,
- Special senses and speech, such as impaired hearing, sight or speech,
- Respiratory disorders, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cystic fibrosis,
- Cardiovascular illnesses, such as arrhythmia, congenital heart disease and heart failure,
- Digestive system, such as bowel or liver disease,
- Genitourinary disorders,
- Blood disorders, such as sickle cell disease and other anemias, bone marrow failure or hemophilia,
- Skin disorders, such as burns, dermatitis and ichthyosis, a group of about 20 conditions that cause dryness and scaling,
- Endocrine disorders, such as diabetes and thyroid problems,
- Congenital disorders, such as Down syndrome that affect multiple body systems,
- Neurological disorders, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and traumatic brain injuries,
- Mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder, dementia, depression, intellectual disabilities and schizophrenia,
- Immune system diseases, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), inflammatory arthritis and lupus.
In-depth information for each section can be found with the links.
My disability isn’t on that list, what do I do?
The listing of impairments is not exhaustive and it is possible to qualify for SSDI or SSI if your disorder is not specified above. This is also true if it doesn’t exactly match the cited medical requirements.
The law defines disability as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.
SSA Definition of Disability
However, you will have to make a case to Social Security that your illness or symptoms are as severe as those above in terms of limiting your work or daily functioning.