A lot of people don’t know when they can apply, or whether they would be eligible for, Social Security disability benefits. Many are also unsure whether they could receive Supplemental Security Income benefits, and what the differences are between all of these kinds of benefits.
Both programs require that an applicant prove that a medical impairment prevents them from obtaining gainful employment for a period that lasted a year, or is expected to last that long. With disability benefits, it does not particularly matter whether the person is rich or poor prior to becoming disabled. SSI, however, is paid to those who are both poor and disabled. Unlike other benefits, it does not matter whether an applicant has worked in the past or not.
SSI benefits are granted to those who are indigent, which means that people who qualify essentially have no income, and the only money coming in may be child support or temporary assistance for children.
It does not matter when someone became disabled or what age they are; if they are poor and disabled, they can qualify for SSI benefits. There is a variety of benefits that are paid to those who are under the age of 18 and are disabled. The way a disability is determined in children may differ from the process in adults, however.
The most important thing is that people who are poor and disabled look into their options. Unfortunately, many people do not bother applying for disability benefits because they are embarrassed or they simply do not know that they qualify.
Source: NOSSCR, “How many types of Social Security disability payments are there?” July 2012