How do I take care of myself if I am disabled?

A person who is disabled may apply for Social Security Disability if he or she has a work record or apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if there is an insufficient work record. Applications are filed at the local Social Security Administration Office. If your application is denied, you may appeal and have the matter heard by an Administrative Law Judge. You should consult an attorney if you appeal.

For persons over the age of 18, the definition of “disability” under a Social Security Disability benefits analysis is “the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” To qualify for Social Security Disability, you need a certain number of “credits” calculated using wages and years of work. Younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program gives cash assistance to people with limited income and resources and who are age 65 or older, blind or disabled. Disability is determined similarly to Social Security Disability, but does not require specific work history.

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