Houston Social Security
Disability Attorney

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Photo of David Dopkin

Do you need a long work history to qualify for SSI benefits?

On Behalf of | Jul 2, 2021 | Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are possibly even more misunderstood than their sister program, Social Security Disability (SSDI). People frequently don’t know if they qualify for SSI or what the process is to get benefits.

It’s common for people to confuse the requirements for SSDI with those for SSI. A common reason people give for not applying for SSI benefits is that they have not worked long enough to accrue benefits. Do you need to have a lengthy work history to receive SSI?

SSI is not contribution-based like SSDI

To receive SSDI, an applicant needs to have a qualifying medical condition and have paid into the program through employment. The tax withholdings deducted from their wages include state and federal employment taxes, as well as Social Security contributions.

Only when workers have made enough payroll contributions to the Social Security Administration through taxes can they request either SSDI or retirement benefits. Obviously, the program effectively eliminates coverage for anyone born with a disability or unable to work because of personal or medical reasons.

Thankfully, SSI is available to anyone who meets certain criteria, even if they are children or have never worked a job.

What are the qualification criteria for SSI?

Obviously, to receive SSI benefits, you need to apply for benefits. You also need to have a medical condition that affects your ability to work a job or to live on your own. Even children dependent on care from their parents can qualify for SSI, a benefit that could help the family meet their special care and medical needs. The applicant must have limited income and personal assets.

Those who are blind may qualify for benefits, as can those over the age of 65. Those applying will need to prove their condition through medical documentation and will also need to either be United States citizens or immigrants in good standing.

Those awaiting deportation may not qualify for benefits. The same is true of someone institutionalized if the state pays for their hospitalization costs. Traveling out of the country can also sometimes affect eligibility.

Understanding SSI qualification requirements is the first step toward getting benefits that could make your life a little bit better.