If a disability prevents you from working, you can apply for disability benefits through either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplementary Security Insurance (SSI). The programs have different eligibility requirements; the main difference is that qualification for SSDI depends upon a worker’s earning record, while SSI qualification depends upon financial need for low-income individuals with limited resources. In her disability law practice, Downers Grove Social Security attorney Mary L. Collins and her knowledgeable staff work with individuals who were denied benefits at the initial and reconsideration level.

Qualifying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
SSDI is available based on two main qualifications: disability and credits earned during employment.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines “disability” as:

  • When a person cannot do the work he or she did before due to a severe medical condition, and
  • The SSA decides you cannot adjust to other forms of work due to your severe medical condition; and
  • Your disability has lasted or is expected to last one year or more, or your disability is expected to result in death.

In addition to meeting the SSA’s definition of disability, you must have worked in a job covered by Social Security to earn “credits” based on your total yearly wages or self-employment income. The number of credits required varies from year to year, and depends on your age. When you stop working, your “insurance” under this program eventually ends. It is important to address your eligibility if you have been out of work for a while.

Qualifying for Supplementary Security Insurance (SSI)
SSI is a disability program for low income persons who do not have sufficient work quarters to qualify for benefits under the SSDI program. You may qualify for SSI if you are 65 or older, blind or have a disability as defined by the SSA. In addition, you must also fulfill each of the following requirements:

  • Have limited income and resources
  • Be a U.S. citizen, national, or fall within certain categories of aliens
  • Be a resident of one of the 50 states, D.C., or the Northern Marina Islands
  • Not be absent from the U.S. for a full calendar month, or more than 30 consecutive days
  • Apply for any other cash benefits or payments of which you are eligible (such as pensions or other Social Security programs)
  • Give the SSA permission to contact any financial institution and request records

A Personal and Caring Law Firm
Mary L. Collins understands the struggles disabled individuals face, and dedicates her law practice to helping individuals and families in need. She seeks to know her clients on a personal level to best understand and represent their interests. In addition to representation of people denied benefits by the SSA, she also helps individuals with estate planning and drafts special needs trusts for children. Contact Downers Grove disability lawyer Mary L. Collins to schedule a free consultation. If you cannot travel to her office due to physical limitations, she will do her best to make accommodations for you.