Check If You Are Eligible for the Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income Programs

To qualify for the social security disability (SSD) and supplemental security income (SSI) programs, you need to prove to the Social Security Administration (SSA) that you match their strict disability benefits eligibility criteria as evidenced by relevant documents and information.

The first criterion that you’ll have to pass is to prove that your disability is not temporary, which by definition, means it can persist for more than a year or is considered terminal. This is where keeping all your previous medical records will come in handy. Under this “first test”, the SSA should be convinced that your condition hinders you from engaging in a substantial gainful activity (SGA) or the normal day-to-day activities in their previous employment.

The sections below give you an overview of important information about disability benefits eligibility related to the following questions:

Am I Entitled to Claim Title II Benefits (SSDI)?

There is a lot of legalese involved with social security and disability cases that often discourage eligible filers from fighting for a denied case. But regardless if this was your first or your third time at trying to get on that list of SSA’s beneficiaries, you have a higher chance of getting approved if your answers are similar to the ones below:

Check Eligibility Yes/No
Are you currently employed with a high income? No
Can you perform any gainful activity or some type of work? No
Is your disability considered severe? Yes
Will it persist for at least a year, or even possibly lead to death? Yes
Is your condition included in the SSA’s List of Impairments for Adults/Children? Yes

Am I Eligible to Apply for Title XVI Benefits (SSI)?

For a more comprehensive list of SSA’s target beneficiaries and disability benefits eligibility requirements, visit Orum Young Law’s Complete Guide to Understanding Social Security Disability Benefits.

Although the benefits under an SSI claim are similar to SSDI benefits, the eligibility criteria is different. You will have a good chance of getting your SSI claim approved if your answers match the ones below:


Eligibility Yes/No
Are you a citizen residing in the United States or the Northern Mariana Islands? Yes
Do you have a disability or are you at 65 years of age and above? Yes
Do you have a high income at your disposal? No
Do you own a lot of resources (properties and assets)? No
Is your disability included in the SSA’s List of Impairments for Adults/Children? Yes

For a more comprehensive list of SSA’s target beneficiaries and eligibility requirements, visit Orum Young Law’s Complete Guide to Understanding Supplemental Security Income Benefits.

Our Attorneys Can Help You With Your Claim

Speak with one of our attorneys today and get a free case review. Call us and find out what social security benefits you are entitled to receive.

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What Information Do I Need to Provide?

Be ready to provide your personal information, the details of your medical condition, and your work history to determine your disability benefits eligibility.

Personal Information

For individual applicants, it is required to declare their Social Security numbers, date and place of birth, and bank account details.

For married applicants, the dates and place of marriage/s and date and place of divorce or death (whichever applicable) must also be provided.

For applicants with children, the date of birth and age of minor dependents are needed.

Medical Condition Details

You will need to provide a detailed account of your disability, medical illnesses, injuries, or any other conditions. For SSA to verify these details during the review stage, you will also need to declare the full names and addresses, including available contact numbers, of all doctors, nurses, hospitals, and clinics that have handled or treated you.

In addition, prepare a list of all medicines taken and who prescribed these drugs, as well as a listing of medical tests taken and who ordered these.

Work History

Review all your financial statements and tax declarations as you will need to be ready to answer questions about the following:

  • Your earnings in the current year and previous years
  • Name/s and address/es of your employer/s in the current and previous year
  • For those who served the military prior to 1968, the start and end dates of U.S. military service
  • Employment in the past 15 years before you had your disability with details about the nature and status of employment (whether temporary or permanent)
  • Annuities, or lump sum payments from any private agencies, the government, or public agencies
  • Benefits received from your employer’s insurance company
  • History of receiving any of the following:
    • Workers’ Compensation / Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation
    • Black Lung Benefits.
    • Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation
    • Civil Service Retirement (for those with disabilities)
    • Federal Employees’ Retirement
    • Federal Employees’ Compensation
    • Disability insurance benefits from the state or local government
    • Disability benefits from the military (including military retirement pensions but excluding the Veterans’ Administration benefits)

What Documents Should I Prepare?

Since some documents may take a while to get, start compiling those in the list below as soon as you match the eligibility requirements for social security disability benefits:

  • Your Birth certificate or proof of where and when you were born
  • Baptismal certificate
  • Document proving your U.S. citizenship
  • For those not born in the United States, a document proving lawful alien status
  • For those who served the military prior to 1968, your U.S. military discharge papers
  • Wage and Tax Settlement (W-2) Form
  • For self-employed claimants, Your tax returns for the previous year
  • Proof of any form of compensation or other benefits received such as an award letter, pay stubs, settlement agreement, temporary or permanent workers’ compensation
  • Medical evidence: patient records, doctors’ reports, laboratory test results, list of prescribed medicine names and dosages
  • Contact details of medical professionals, health institutions, or centers which have treated your condition or impairment
  • Consent forms allowing your doctors to disclose your medical information
  • If applicable, a declaration of any outstanding warrant of arrest or felony record

What Makes An Applicant Ineligible?

Not everyone who submits a claim for social security disability insurance benefits or supplemental security income is deemed eligible for either of the two programs. The section above outlines which factors will most likely increase your chances of getting an application approved.

If you are wondering whether you’ll meet the same fate as other rejected applicants, then try asking yourself these questions.

Was I able to prove that my disability is severe? If YES, then you’ll most likely be given a longer review time by the Social Security Office. This is because the severity of one’s condition is the first thing that they look at, given that both the SSDI and SSI are disability programs.

Did I apply to the correct program? If you answered YES, then it means you understand the difference between the SSDI and SSI. In a nutshell, the former is an income-based program funded by your FICA taxes, while the latter is a needs-based program funded by U.S. general funds. Although both offer similar benefits, they target different populations. Don’t make the mistake of believing you qualify for one just because you’re eligible for the other. If you’re a bit confused about the difference between these two, read the section Difference between the SSDI and SSI.

Did I pass the work eligibility test? If you applied for an SSDI benefits claim and answered YES, then you’re one step closer to receiving your benefits. The work disability benefits eligibility test is a set of rules created by the SSA which outlines the required number of work credits you must have earned before as an employee before you are entitled to enjoying a monthly disability paycheck. If this is your first time learning about this type of test, make sure to read more about the eligibility check questions you should review.

Do I have more than enough income and resources? If you applied for an SSI benefits claim and answered YES, then there’s a higher chance for you to get a rejected application. This is because only citizens who have substantial proof that they have little income and resources (as calculated by the SSA) can be entitled to disability pay.

How Can A Social Security Disability Lawyer Help?

Hiring the services of an experienced Social Security Disability attorney, like those from Orum Young Law,

  1. Disability lawyers can give you a free case evaluation.
    The very first question that pops into your mind is “Am I eligible?”. Often, this can be answered by conducting a quick Google search, visiting the SSA website, or talking with your friends and family who are recipients of the benefits you also want to have. Orum Young Law understands that when you become disabled, injured, or ill, it greatly affects your financial stability and can be devastating, which is why we let our lawyers remove the burden of knowing the ins and outs of social security off your chest.
  2. An attorney will help you complete the necessary paperwork.
    As seen in the sections above, there is a long list of information you need to provide and documents you need to show before the SSA can declare you as an eligible claimant. Just missing out on one of these can be the reason for getting your claim denied.
  3. Getting a lawyer boosts your chances of receiving your disability benefits.
    This is true whether you are applying for the first time, the second time, or appealing a denied claim.
  4. A disability attorney assists in the appeals process.
    Since the majority of initial applications get rejected, a legal representative by your side is a valuable resource when drafting your request for reconsideration, and when you attend hearings should you be at a much further level of the appeal process