What types of Social Security disability benefits are available?

There are several types of Social Security benefits for which an individual may be eligible. Individuals may be eligible for more than one type of disability benefit, and are not required to choose only one disability benefit. You must be “disabled” before you can qualify for any type of benefit, and there may also be additional non-medical requirements depending on the benefit.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) – To be eligible for these benefits, you must have paid enough Social Security tax (FICA) over a period of time so as to have disability coverage in force. Generally, this means that you must have worked and paid Social Security tax for roughly 5 of the last 10 years before becoming disabled, although people with disabilities starting before age 30 have a different, easier rule.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – When an individual has a very low disability insurance rate or hasn’t paid enough Social Security tax to be eligible for SSDI benefits, SSI benefits may be available. SSI benefits are based on financial need, so you must have very little income and property (non-exempt assets must not exceed $2,000). Additionally, you must be “disabled” under the same guidelines that apply to the other benefits, or be blind or over 65 years old. In some circumstances, children under 18 years old with a severe disability can get monthly SSI payments if their family income is low.

Disability Widow/Widower Benefits (DWB) – This type of benefit is available for individuals that are between the ages of 50-60, have become disabled within a fixed number of years after the death of a spouse, and have been married for 10 or more years to the person who had Social Security coverage at the time of his/her death.

Disabled Adult Child Benefits (CDB) – Eligibility for this type of benefit requires that you be the child of a person who is already receiving Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Retirement Benefits, or who died while being covered for Social Security. Additionally, you must be 18 years or older to apply, and you must show that the parent’s disability is continuing and began before you turned 22 years old.