In order to qualify for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB), or Title II, a claimant must:

  1. Show that he or she is disabled, or cannot engage in Substantial Gainful Activity.
  2. Have earned enough work credits.

Unlike Supplemental Security Income (SSI), DIB relies heavily on work credits rather than income. Work credits are simply a way Social Security determines if you have paid enough income taxes into the system through your paychecks.

To qualify for DIB, a claimant must have earned 20 work credits of the last 40 available (up to 4 work credits can be earned each year). This means that if you have worked approximately 5 of the last 10 years, you may qualify.

It is possible to qualify for both SSI and DIB. If you have worked at least 5 of the last 10 years and have a low level of income and assets, you may be approved for both. (However, your final monthly benefits amount may be different from what is quoted in your approval letter—see Calculating Benefits.) Remember that each type of benefits is still dependent on your ability to prove your disability through detailed medical records. Your representative will have more information and will probably handle most of this for you.