Generally, in order to receive Social Security Disability benefits, one has to pay into the Social Security system. The minimum one has to pay to be eligible for Disability benefits is 40 quarters of employment, which equals ten years.
SSI benefits are payable to disabled individuals who have not paid enough into the system in order to qualify for Disability benefits. For example, children under the age of 18 who meet the disability requirements for Social Security will qualify for SSI benefits. Another example of a person who might be eligible for SSI benefits is a housewife who never worked outside of the home.
In addition to meeting Social Security’s disability requirements, an applicant for SSI benefits will have to meet certain income and means requirements. If you want to see if you qualify for SSI benefits, the Social Security website has a calculator. You can put in your information, and they will tell you if you are eligible. The Social Security website can be found at www.ssa.gov.