- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which is a program that pays benefits to qualified disabled workers, and sometimes to their dependents or survivors.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is a “need-based” program that pays benefits to any qualified individual.
Medical Eligibility and Colorado Social Security
Most adults and children who receive disability benefits in the state of Colorado do so by having a medical condition that appears in the SSA’s Blue Book. This book is a detailed list of recognized mental, physical, and psychological impairments that result in severe disability. Each listing describes the condition as well as the medical evidence the SSA must see in order to approve benefits.
Some people who don’t meet a Blue Book listing are able to qualify for SSDI and/or SSI through additional reviews and appeals. However, meeting a Blue Book listing is the simplest method to qualify for a benefit.
The Blue Book contains listings for adults and children, allowing applicants and their healthcare providers to review the necessary medical tests and other documentation needed to support a disability claim.
SSDI and SSI Technical Eligibility
Medically qualifying for benefits is only part of the review process. Applicants must also meet program-specific technical eligibility rules.
- For SSDI benefits, a recent work history is necessary and disabled workers must have a minimum number of work credits accumulated. Credits are earned through paying Social Security taxes for the years you worked. The number of credits required is influenced by your age at the time that you become disabled, but generally you must have between 20 and 40 credits to qualify.
- For SSI benefits, there are no work history requirements, but you must meet the SSA’s financial threshold limits. SSI is need-based and therefore takes your income and other financial resources into account when determining eligibility. The SSA only counts certain types of income and resources, which means many disabled adults and children are able to meet eligibility rules.
As a disabled resident of Colorado, you may have additional benefits available to you, including:
- Aid to the Needy Disabled (AND), which is a state-funded supplement to SSI benefits. The program pays benefits to qualified applicants who:
- Meet low income requirements
- Are between the ages of 18 and 59
- Have a disability that is expected to last at least six months
- Aid to the Blind (AB), which offers financial assistance to blind residents while they wait for federal SSI benefits to kick in.
Medicaid and SSI
If you live in Colorado and are approved for federal SSI benefits, your SSI application automatically triggers your Medicaid application. Medicaid is a health coverage program for low-income residents. The date of eligibility for SSI and Medicaid is the same, so that when SSI benefits begin, your Medicaid benefits start as well.
Getting Benefits in Colorado
Only about 41 percent of people who apply for SSDI in Colorado are able to receive benefits without going through additional reviews or appeals. SSI applications have an initial application approval rate of around 27 percent. It is possible to get approved, even if you must file an appeal, but building a strong disability claim from the start increases your approval chances.
- You can apply for SSDI online via the SSA’s website, but you can also schedule an appointment with your local SSA office to apply with the assistance of a representative.
- SSI applications require a personal appointment and cannot be submitted online.
- Aurora – 14280 E. Jewell Ave., Aurora, CO 80012
- Boulder – 4949 Pearl East Circle, Boulder, CO 80301
- Denver – 1500 Champa St., Denver, CO 80202
- Grand Junction – 825 N. Crest Dr., Grand Junction, CO 81506
- Pueblo – 3769 Parker Blvd., Pueblo, CO 81008
Thank you to Deanna Power, who works as a Community Outreach Manager at Social Security Disability Help for writing and sharing this information via Imagine! Voices.