What if I've never worked before? PDF Print E-mail

If you're disabled but have never worked, or if you haven't worked in a long time, you're probably not eligible to receive traditional social security disability income (SSD) benefits.  However, the U.S. government has initiated a program just for your situation.  Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits would be most applicable in your situation.  You can read more about SSI benefits in our Supplemental Security Income Benefits section.

 

In short, if you are blind, elderly, or disabled and you have little or no income, then chances are, you are eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income Benefits (SSI).

 

The SSI program was created to help those who are not in a position to otherwise help themselves.  The Supplemental Security Income benefit program is federally funded.  It is designed as a safety net for those Americans who, for whatever reason, are physically disabled or too old to earn a living and pay for basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing.  Blind or disabled children, as well as adults, can be eligible to receive SSI.

 

 
 

Social Security Claim Evaluation Form

 

HOW IS SSI LIKE SOCIAL SECURITY?

 

  • Both programs pay monthly benefits.
  • The medical standards for disability are the same in both programs for individuals age 18 or older.  There is a separate definition of disability under SSI for children from birth to  age 18.
  • SSA administers both programs.

 

HOW IS SSI DIFFERENT FROM SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS?

 

  • Many people who are eligible for SSI may also be entitled to receive Social Security benefits.  In fact, the application for SSI is also an application for Social Security benefits.
  • Unlike Social Security benefits, SSI benefits are not based on your prior work or a family member's prior work.
  • SSI is financed by general funds of the U.S. Treasury—personal income taxes, corporation taxes and other taxes.  Social Security taxes collected under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) or the Self Employment Contributions Act (SECA) do not fund the SSI program.
  • In most States, SSI beneficiaries also can get Medicaid (medical assistance) to pay for hospital stays, doctor bills, prescription drugs, and other health costs.
  • SSI beneficiaries may also be eligible for food stamps in every State except California. In some States, an application for SSI also serves as an application for food assistance.
  • SSI benefits are paid on the first of the month.
  • To get SSI, you must be disabled, blind, or at least 65 years old and have “limited” income and resources.
  • In addition, to get SSI, you must also:
    - be a resident of the United States; and
    - not be absent from the country for more than 30 days; and
    - be either a U.S. citizen or national, or in one of certain categories of eligible
     non-citizens.