Social Security disability law stipulates that Social Security disability benefits are for those who qualify based on payment of Social Security taxes, while Supplemental Security Income benefits are for disabled people in financial need, notes the Social Security Administration. Beneficiaries of both programs must meet the SSA disability definition.
To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, individuals must usually earn a minimum of 40 work credits through payment of Social Security taxes, although younger disabled workers may need fewer credits to qualify, according to the Social Security Administration. Workers can earn up to four credits a year, and each credit represents $1,220 of taxed wages or self employment income as of 2015. Those who do not qualify for Social Security disability benefits may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income, a program of benefits administered by the SSA for elderly, blind or disabled individuals with limited income and resources.
To be eligible for Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income, individuals must be totally disabled, states the Social Security Administration. The SSA does not pay benefits for short-term or partial disability. Beneficiaries must be unable to perform their previous work and unable to take on new work due to their disability. Additionally, the disability must be at least a year in duration, diagnosed to last at least a year or expected to result in death.