An individual qualifies for SSI disability benefits if he is disabled, has never worked, did not work long enough to qualify for Social Security disability, or was eligible for Social Security disability but had a lapse in coverage. Children with mental or physical disabilities also qualify for SSI.
There are limits to assets and income that an individual must meet in order to qualify for SSI. The Social Security administration updates its qualification limits annually. An individual who is on SSI but is not permanently disabled can work, but he must make less than the income threshold to maintain qualification to receive SSI benefits. Children who are disabled or mentally challenged can also collect SSI benefits; in such cases, income and asset limits are determined by the family. When a child turns 18, the family income is no longer considered when determining qualification for SSI.
Also, the Social Security administration has a list of impairments that an individual must be diagnosed with in order to qualify for SSI disability. No matter what the medical issue is, Social Security deems a condition to be disabling if the condition is expected to last more than 12 months, has already exceeded 12 months, or is expected to result in the person's death.