What is the difference between SSI vs SSDI?

The Social Security Administration uses two separate programs for disability benefits. The program you use depends on your working status through the years. Those who have worked and have paid into the system for a given number of years can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits, also known as Title II, SSDI, or DIB. Supplemental Security Income, also called Title XVI or SSI, is based solely on an individual's income and resources, not on whether they have paid into the system. SSI (Supplemental Security Income) Is a need-based cash benefit for people​:

  • Over 65 or with a disability ​
  • With low income and few resources​
  • It’s possible to receive SSI + SSDI or SSI + Retirement​
SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance)​
  • If you have enough work history, are disabled and unable to work for longer than a year, you may be eligible for SSDI​
  • Converts to Retirement Benefit upon reaching retirement age​
These programs benefit you and your family if you become disabled or once you turn 65 years of age. Both SSI and SSDI have a disability requirement which will require medical records (waived for SSI if over 65). You may qualify for both SSI and SSDI, to receive a monthly payment for both.

What is Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI)?

CAPI is a 100 percent state-funded program designed to provide monthly cash benefits to aged or disabled non-citizens who are ineligible for Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment (SSI/SSP) solely due to their immigration status. To qualify, you must be a Lawful Permanent Resident, Refugee or U-Visa holder with a disability and ineligible for SSI/SSP due to your immigration status.

What is Social Security's definition of disability to qualify for benefits?

By law, Social Security has a very strict definition of disability. To be found disabled:

  • You must be unable to do any substantial work because of your medical condition(s); and
  • Your medical condition(s) must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least 1 year, or be expected to result in your death.

What are Social Security’s list of “approved” disabilities?

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How much work credits do I need?

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Does my child qualify for Child Benefits?

If your child has a disability, he/she may be entitled to receive social security benefits if the child meets the requirements outlined by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
A child with one or more of the following diagnoses will most likely qualify for SSI:

  • Total Blindness
  • Total Deafness
  • Down Syndrome
  • Severe Intellectual Disability
  • Cerebral Palsy
The child must have a medically determinable physical and/or mental impairment or impairments which result in marked and severe functional limitations and the impairment(s) has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months or be expected to result in death. Parents of children with autism often also apply for SSI. The degree to which the autism impacts the child’s ability to handle daily living will have a huge impact on that child’s eligibility. Whether or not your child qualifies for SSI will also depend on if the child has any income and/or assets. A small savings account or a joint custodial account will not mess up a child’s ability to receive SSI. However, if you child is employed, the monthly wages may be enough to make your child ineligible for SSI. A disabled child can become eligible at birth and until the age of 18. Once a child reaches the age of 18, the child will have to meet the qualifications for adult benefits.
​View SSAs List of Childhood Disabilites Download Child Referral Form

What is required to apply for Child Disability Benefits Claim?

Complete the FRED Case Evaluation Form on this page and one of our expert advocates will contact you.

Before we can file a claim, it is important to collect medical records that thoroughly document your child’s health condition. Documentation should include records of your child’s diagnosis, medical lab test results, treatments, and hospitalizations. You should also include personal statements from professional adults that interact with your child on a regular basis to include doctors, teachers, coaches, or therapists. Personal statements should outline your child’s condition and how it interferes with his or her ability to perform daily activities are also important. You should also collect records pertaining to your personal finances.

  • If your child is seeing a doctor, it is important that the child continues seeing the doctor throughout this process.
  • If your child is not seeing a doctor, you will be asked to seek treatment so that we may have necessary medical evidence to support your case.
  • During your first appointment, we will complete the initial registration paperwork to begin the process. We will find out if the household’s income is within the income guidelines to qualify.
  • Once we complete all forms and gather the necessary support, we will submit your package to SSA for processing. We will initiate your claim during the first appointment but we will not submit the application until all records are received from you.
  • It is important that you realize how long and complicated the application process can be. In fact, many applicants are denied. If your child’s application is denied, do not give up. We can help you appeal the SSA’s decision.
The SSA will also contact any medical professionals or teachers who have interacted heavily with your child to gain more information about the need for resource aid. The SSA will judge the severity of your child’s condition using an official guidebook of disabling conditions known as the blue book. The SSA’s blue book contains listings for potentially disabling conditions as well as specific medical criteria a person must meet to qualify. The SSA has separate listings for adults and children. If your child is approved, the SSA will review the information occasionally to ensure that he or she is receiving the care needed, even if the child’s condition is not anticipated to improve.

Can a child without disabilities receive benefits if the parent has a disability?

In some cases, you may have a child that has no disabilities, but you as the parent suffer from disabilities or you were healthy but recently retired and are now receiving social security benefits. Your child may be eligible to receive benefits as well. In some cases, your child may even receive up to 50% of what you receive. For a child to be eligible, he or she must be under the age of 18 (19 if a full-time student), and the parent must be receiving social security benefits. What is great about these benefits is by your child receiving them, it does not decrease the amount that you as the parent receive. These types of benefits are also effective for children who have had a parent who was on social security and passed away while the child was still a minor.


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