Along with the requirement of having a severe medically determinable impairment, an applicant for Social Security disability benefits must also meet certain non-medical requirements. To be eligible for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI), an applicant must earn less than a certain amount of money each month (or else will be considered able to do substantial gainful activity), have paid FICA taxes for a certain number of years to the Social Security Administration (generally at least five of the last ten years), and fulfill certain citizenship or lawful residency requirements.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is available to disabled individuals who have never worked or who have not worked long enough or recently enough to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI). SSI is also available to children with physical or mental disabilities. Eligibility for SSI is subject to income and asset limits.