The Difference Between Medical & Non Medical Social Security Disability

by Lainie Petersen ; Updated July 27, 2017
People must qualify for Social Security disability on both medical and non-medical grounds.

In order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, an applicant's claim needs to meet both the medical and non-medical requirements. Even if a disability is present, other factors unrelated to the disability can determine whether the claim will be approved.

Social Security Administration

The Social Security Administration is a federal agency that oversees several benefit programs. Two of these programs provide assistance to the disabled.

Social Security Disability Insurance

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides benefits to the disabled and, in some cases, their families. Individuals and their family members qualify for SSDI through the earning of Social Security work credits, and will only receive benefits if the disabled person was able to work long enough, and recently enough, to earn these credits.

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Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) pays benefits to both children and adults who are disabled and have very low or no earnings. It also pays benefits to those 65 and older with a very low income. Unlike SSDI, recipients of SSI do not need to have earned a certain amount of Social Security wages to be eligible for benefits.

Medical Qualifications

To receive disability benefits, a person must have a mental or physical disability that is so severe, she is, and will be, unable to work for at least a year. Individuals who apply for disability must show that they are unable to work at their previous job and that their disability prevents them from taking on different work.

Non-Medical Qualifications

A person's age and Social Security earning history are non-medical qualifications for Social Security disability programs. For example, the SSA might determine that a person qualifies for disability based on his medical history, but will deny him SSDI benefits because he didn't work long enough earn those benefits.

About the Author

Lainie Petersen writes about business, real estate and personal finance, drawing on 25 years experience in publishing and education. Petersen's work appears in Money Crashers, Selling to the Masses, and in Walmart News Now, a blog for Walmart suppliers. She holds a master's degree in library science from Dominican University.

Photo Credits

  • disabled sign image by Warren Millar from Fotolia.com
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