What is Social Security Disability Insurance?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pays benefits to people who cannot work because of certain medical conditions.  It is funded through the FICA Social Security payroll taxes that workers pay and is considered a form of insurance earned by accumulating enough work credits throughout a person’s working life.  To qualify for SSDI, a person must be under 65 years old and have a qualifying severe disability as designated by the Social Security Administration. 

What is the difference between Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Because many people confuse SSI vs. SSDI, it’s important to understand the similarities and differences of both benefit programs.  For most people, medical requirements that will allow you to receive disability payments are the same, and disability is determined by using the same process.  While both are managed by Social Security and both provide you with benefits if you are not able to work, there are some fundamental differences between SSI and SSDI. 

The most notable of these is that SSDI is only available to those people who have accumulated enough work credits, while SSI is available to low-income individuals who have not accumulated enough work credits or who have never worked.  In addition, SSDI is based on your work history, but SSI is strictly based on a financial situation of considerable need.  SSI benefits begin on the first of the month that a social security application is submitted and approved, but there is a five-month waiting period for SSDI benefits to kick in.  People who qualify for SSI also can receive Medicaid benefits.  After receiving SSDI benefits for two years, a disabled person will be eligible for Medicare benefits.  The amount of SSI benefits depend on where a person lives and what their monthly income is, while SSDI benefit amounts are dependent on a person’s earnings record.

Work credits are the first step in determining SSDI eligibility

To determine if a person qualifies for SSDI, a person’s work record is the first thing that Social Security evaluates. Recent work and duration of work are both assessed by measuring a person’s work credits.

You must have a certain number of work credits to qualify. Used as a measurement of work history, credits allow the Social Security Administration to determine if a person has put in enough time to receive benefits.

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The number of work credits you need depends on your age on the date you became disabled.

If you become disabled...
Then you generally need:
In or before the quarter you turn 24
6 credits or 1.5 years of work over the 3-year period before the disability started
In the quarter after you turn 24 but before the quarter you turn 31
Credits for half of the years between your 21st birthday and the quarter you became disabled. Example: If you became disabled at age 29, you would need four years of work or 16 credits.
In the quarter you turn 31 through 42
20 credits
At 42 through 62
Credits that equal your age subtracted by 12. Example: if you become disabled at age 50, you will need 28 credits
At or after 62
40 credits

 

Determining your level of disability

Once it’s determined that you meet the work requirements to be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance, the severity of your disability will be assessed.  Social Security bases disability on a person’s inability to work. You fit the definition if:

  • You cannot do the work that you once did
  • Social Security decides that you cannot adjust to other forms of work because of this medical condition, and
  • Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

The Social Security Administration will send your Social Security Disability application to Disability Determination Services (DDS).  They follow a 5-step process to essentially determine whether or not a condition is severe enough to restrict all ability to work. The DDS will complete the assessment and approve or deny a claim.

Social Security Disability Application: Payment of Benefits

If the Social Security Disability application is approved, the first benefit will be paid to you for the sixth full month after the date that the disability began.

Monthly disability benefits are wholly based on your lifetime average earnings covered by Social Security. You can receive an estimate here.

Work Incentives

Three work incentives are offered for those attempting to go back to work but still need to receive benefits.

  1. The Trial Work Period allows you to work for a maximum of 9 months and still receive full benefits. The 9 months can be spread over a 60-month period.
  2. The Extended Period of Eligibility is a 36-month time frame following the Trial Work Period. During this time frame, you are able to work and receive benefits as long as you’re earning less than the monthly income cap. In 2015, the cap is $1,090.
  3. If a disability should eventually impede these periods of work, Expedited Reinstatement can come into play. Through Expedited Reinstatement, benefits can be reinstated up to five years after the benefits have ended.

Family Eligibility and Children with Disabilities

Certain family members may be eligible to receive disability benefits on your record including a spouse, a divorced spouse, children, a disabled child and/or an adult child who was disabled before the age of 22. Each beneficiary’s rate depends on the number of family members receiving benefits on your record as well as the amount you receive.

The maximum amount each family member is eligible to receive is 50 percent of the disability rate. The total payment to an entire family, however, is capped and is not based on other personal financial situation factors.

Disabled Children

Disabled children under the age of 18 are eligible for benefits as beneficiaries of a parent who has earned enough work credits under Social Security.

If a child is disabled before the age of 22, he or she is also eligible for disability benefits under a parent’s record if the parent is deceased, collecting retirement, or collecting disability themselves. The following stipulations apply:

  • The person must be unmarried, age 18 or older, and have a disability that started before age 22
  • The person cannot have ‘substantial’ earnings as determined by Social Security and discussed in pervious sections
  • The person must meet the definition of disability for adults

Military benefits 

Members of the military, both active and veteran, are eligible for special disability benefits under SSDI.

If the service member became disabled on active duty service on or after October 1, 2001, he or she is eligible for expedited processing of the disability claim. 

Service members may also be eligible for Past Disability Benefits, which apply to a closed period of disability that ended within the past 14 months.

The following family members of service members who receive disability may also be eligible to receive benefits:

  • A spouse over age 62
  • A spouse caring for a child of yours who is under the age of 16 or is disabled
  • Any unmarried children who are younger than 18; adopted children, stepchildren, or grandchildren may qualify in some cases
  • An unmarried child who is over the age of 18 but has a disability that began before age 22

People who are blind or have low vision

If you are blind or have low vision, Social Security offers several adjustments to disability benefits to accommodate the additional difficulties associated with loss of sight.

These accommodations include being able to work toward Social Security credits after you become blind; delayed benefits that will increase if you continue to work without receiving disability benefits; and a higher monthly salary cap.

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Eligibility Focus on Disability Benefits

At the federal level, and under the jurisdiction of Social Security, there are two programs that will pay benefits to disabled individuals.  They are Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income.  While both pay benefits to the disabled, each has its own criteria that will qualify a person to collect payments.  The main difference between the two programs is that with SSDI, you will need to have an established and verifiable work history that will be used to help calculate your level of benefits.  SSI disability benefits are paid to very low income applicants who are not able to show a work history, but who have become disabled and are in need of assistance.

The majority of all disability payment programs are administered on the federal level, but there are five states that offer state-funded disability programs in addition to SSDI and SSI.  Currently, those five states are California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island.  They are intended to supplement, but not replace, federal disability payment programs.

How do I apply for disability benefits?

There are three ways to apply for SSDI:

  1. You can apply online Online.  As part of this process, you will need to print and review SSA’s Adult Disability Checklist.  It will help you gather the information you need to then complete the Disability Benefit Application.
  2. Over the phone by calling 800-772-1213.
  3. In person at your local Social Security office. Find your local office here.

How can I determine what my Social Security disability benefits amount will be?

There are several sources you can access that will provide you with a Social Security Disability Insurance benefits calculator. Two of them are located here and here.

What kinds of disability benefits are available to me as a veteran?

Social Security and the Department of Veterans Affairs both administer disability programs, but the criteria for receiving benefits is different for each one and you must file separate Social Security Disability applications.  One of the main differences between the two programs is that the VA may pay VA disability benefits for partial disability, but to qualify for SSDI insurance, you must have a disability that is so severe that it prevents you from engaging in any substantial work activities.   

What disability benefits are available for children?

Children with disabilities can claim benefits as a dependent of their parents until they turn 18.  If they become disabled between the ages of 18 and 22, they can claim benefits as an adult child as long as they are not married and do not have substantial earnings as determined by Social Security.  Benefits are paid based on the parent’s earnings record.  There are additional restrictions that must be met and it is best to contact Social Security to discuss your individual situation to make sure the child in question is eligible for benefits. 

Can I get SSDI back pay?

Yes.  Lump sum SSDI back pay is available to claimants who are paid retroactively for those months from the time they became disabled, also known as a disability onset date, and when they applied for SSDI benefits.  In addition to SSDI back pay, people who apply for SSI may also receive retroactive benefits as well.

Can the IRS garnish my disability benefits if I have a tax debt? 

Yes.  The IRS can implement a tax levy on your benefits.  The tax levy will be equal to 15% of your Social Security benefits until the debt is paid in full.  The Federal Payment Levy Program is used to garnish your payments.

I live in California and want to know what kind of state level disability benefits are available to me? 

California is one of five states in the nation that offers additional disability protection over and above the federal disability payment programs of SSDI and SSI.  The other four states are Hawaii, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island.  Qualifying for benefits in each of these states varies widely, but they are generally used for short-term disability benefits, such as when someone is recovering from an accident or surgery. 

California state disability benefits fall under the California State Disability (SDI) program.  It provides for short-term disability insurance and paid family leave by replacing wages to workers who are eligible and need to take time off away from work. 

Disability insurance may be available to a worker who is not able to work due to a non-work related illness or injury, including pregnancy or childbirth.  Paid family leave may be available for a worker who needs to take care of a family member who has a serious illness or to bond with a new child.  You can apply for California SDI online.

How do I find out about state level disability benefits for other states as well?

Each of the five states that offer state level disability benefits have programs that will vary widely from state to state.

Hawaii. To be eligible for benefits, an employee must have at least 14 weeks of employment in Hawaii and was paid for 20 hours or more, earning not less than $400 in the 52 weeks preceding their disability.  The employee must also be currently employed. For more information, go to the Hawaii Labor website.

New Jersey. Temporary Disability Insurance claims require information from an applicant, their doctor and employer. You will be required to provide any dates of emergency care, dates you worked for your employer in the last year and their contact information, among other things.

New York. Coverage for disability benefits is available through a disability benefits insurance carrier authorized by the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board.  Weekly payments are made to partially offset wage lost due to injuries or illnesses that do not take place as a part of a worker’s employment.  Benefits are paid for a maximum of 26 weeks of disability during 52 consecutive weeks. There is a 7-day waiting period before benefits kick in. &n

Rhode Island. A new Temporary Caregiver Insurance Program was signed into effect in 2013 that gives eligible claimants up to four weeks of benefits to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, domestic partner or other immediate family member or to bond with a newborn child.  There is a 7-day waiting period to begin collecting benefits.

Are there SSDI income limits that might affect my benefits?

The answer is a qualified “yes”.  There are no SSDI income limits on unearned income, such as those from investments, interest or a spouse’s income.  However a disabled person applying for SSDI may not earn more than $1,170 per month by working.  Blind applicants are exempt from this SSDI requirement.

I’ve heard that my SSDI payments may be reduced if I receive other benefits.  How does this happen?  

If you receive other disability benefits such as Workers’ Compensation, your benefits may be recalculated or reduced.  This may take place based on the SSDI index which is also the same index used to compute all Social Security benefits.  The SSDI index looks at average wage indexes and applies them to a beneficiary’s average current earnings.

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Eligibility Focus on The Social Security Disability Insurance Application

As soon as you become disabled, you should apply for SSDI benefits.  Part of the reason for this is that there is a five month delay from the time you apply until the time you receive your first SSDI payment.  It generally takes three to five months to process disability applications.  In addition, if your Social Security Disability application is rejected for any reason, and a great many are, you will experience further delays if you decide to go through a multi-step appeals process. 

To assist you in making your application, Social Security has developed a Disability Starter Kit that provides information about the documents and information that you will be requested to provide.  Because an application can be complicated and lengthy, this is a good place to start and to keep you organized.  The kit also explains how Social Security’s disability programs work and what decision-making processes are used to determine your eligibility.  Social Security offers two kits, one for adults and another form children.  The adult Disability Starter Kit can be found here. And the child Disability Starter Kit can be found here.

Social Security also offers many other useful publications that contain information on disability benefits.

How can I apply for Social Security Disability Insurance?

There are three ways you can apply.  You can go online, over the telephone or in person at a local Social Security office.  No matter which way you choose, you will need to supply Social Security with several key pieces of information to support your claim.  This will include a documented work history, comprehensive medical records and several supporting documents.

How can I find out if I have a disability that will qualify me to collect SSDI benefits?  Social Security bases many of their decisions about what qualifies as a disability based on information published in the Blue Book of Impairments.  This Social Security Disability list of impairments details all qualifying medical conditions that meet the test for disability.  While it is a comprehensive list, if you have a medical condition not listed in the Blue Book, you can still possibly qualify for SSDI benefits.  As part of your disability application, you will need to submit copious information about your condition, including medical records, doctors’ statements and other related materials that will help to convince Social Security you meet Social Security Disability Insurance requirements.

Is there a way to help me calculate how much my Social Security Disability pay will be?

Social Security uses your work history, earnings and other factors to help calculate what your benefit amount will be.  The agency has created a Social Security Disability calculator to assist you in determining what that amount will be.  It is one of many helpful calculators created by the agency to assist Social Security benefit recipients determine their level of benefits for a variety of programs.  To access these calculators, go here.

What options do I have if I’m turned down after submitting my initial disability application?

Only about one in every three applicants is initially approved for SSDI benefits.  The two main reasons for this are that a person does not have enough of or the right kind of work credits, or they do not meet the test for disability.  If you have been turned down, you do have the right to go through a Social Security Disability appeal process.  Either you or your designated representative can file a Request for Reconsideration.  Your initial appeal will be turned over to Disability Determination Services who will thoroughly review your file.  If you are denied again, you can proceed to the next level of appeal which is to appear in front of an Administrative Law Judge.  An Administrative Law Judge will conduct a hearing much like a trial in which all of your medical records and testimony will be heard before the judge renders a decision in the form of a written notice.  If you are still denied benefits, then you have a final appeal step you can take which involves filing a lawsuit in U.S. district court.  You will need an attorney for this step if you haven’t already retained one.  This can be an expensive and time consuming option, and as a result, less than 1% of disability claimants take their cases to this level.

Is Social Security Disability Insurance taxable?

For the vast majority of people, SSDI benefits are not taxed.  Those people who are taxed is generally because they have another source of substantial income.  Income taxes must be paid after an individual reports income of more than $25,000 in a year.  The amount that is taxed ramps up as a person’s income increases.  At $25,000, you must pay income tax on 50% of your SSDI benefits.  If you make more than $34,000, you will have to pay income tax on 85% of your benefits.  Most states do not tax disability benefits at all.  The few that do either follow the same guidelines as the federal model, and a few have their own way of applying taxes to disability benefits. 

Is there phone number I can call to check on my SSDI application status or if I need more information regarding the program in general?

For more information on any aspect of SSDI, contact the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213.

There are also several online SSDI forums that provide support and information for people who are looking for answers on a variety of subjects.

How To Apply for SSDI

There are three ways to apply for disability benefits:

Online.

Over the phone by calling 800-772-1213

In person at your local Social Security office. Find your local office here.

Overview of the application process

A payroll-tax funded federal program, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is one of two disability benefits programs offered through the Social Security Administration.

Social Security pays benefits to those who cannot work because they have a medical condition. You are only eligible for SSDI benefits if you meet the work requirements necessary in jobs covered by Social Security and have a medical condition that meets the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability.

It’s important to note that federal law has a very strict definition of disability that requires the medical condition be one that’s expected to last one full year or more, or result in death. Social Security does not grant benefits to people with partial or short-term disabilities. 

It is suggested that you apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled. The processing of applications can often take 3-5 months.

After applying for disability benefits, the Social Security Administration will evaluate your employment history, length of work and current work activity to determine if it meets their basic work requirements. Should these requirements be met, the application will be sent to your state’s Disability Determination Services (DDS) office to evaluate the medical case and application.

If the claim is approved, a letter will be sent with the approval information, amount of monthly benefits and date effective. In general, monthly cash benefits are paid until you are able to work again on a regular basis.

The amount of a Social Security Disability Benefits is based on average lifetime earnings. The first benefit will be paid for the sixth full month after the date the disability began.

Those who have received disability benefits for two years will receive Medicare coverage automatically after that time period.

Certain family members might also qualify for benefits based on the applicant’s work, but it’s important to note that other government benefits may be affected.

Information you will need to apply

Processing claims for disability benefits can take anywhere from 3-5 months. Gathering required information prior to filing a claim may expedite the process. You will need the following information to apply online:

  • Social Security number (or permanent resident card if you are not a U.S. citizen)
  • Basic spousal information
  • Basic information for any children under the age of 18 or those who became disabled before the age of 22
  • Military service, education or training
  • If you are self-employed, business type and total net income
  • If you are not self-employed, name of employer, start and end dates of employment, total earnings for past two years
  • Direct deposit information
  • Medical information including conditions, doctors, hospitals, clinics at which you’ve received examinations, tests, treatments, etc.
  • Names, dosages and information of all medications
  • Employment history for the 15 years prior to becoming disabled
  • To apply over the phone or in person, you will need the majority of the above as well as:
  • Medical records already in your possession
  • “Medical and Job Worksheet – Adult,” which can be found here.

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Eligibility Requirements for Social Security Disability Benefits

After you’ve applied for SSDI, the federal government will have to determine if you meet the work requirements necessary to receive benefits. Work requirements look at both recent work and the duration of your work.  If you meet both, the severity of your disability will then be determined.

SSDI Work Requirements

Have you worked long enough and recent enough to qualify? The federal government answers this question by determining a person’s Social Security credits. Credits are basic units of measurement that determine whether a worker is insured under the Social Security program.

A credit, legally termed a Quarter of Coverage (QC), is essentially a building block or gauge of accumulated work based on total yearly wages or self-employment income.

The credits allow the Social Security Administration to determine if a person has put in enough time to receive benefits.

One credit is given when a certain amount of money is earned. In 2015, $1,220 in wages equals 1 credit. In 2016, $1,260 will equal one credit. You can receive up to four credits per year.

Note: the earnings Social Security uses to calculate your credits are only earnings on which you pay Social Security taxes as indicated on your tax return. Interest on savings or investments do not count toward earning a credit.

 The number of work credits you need to meet the work requirements for disability benefits depends on your age on the date you became disabled.

Younger workers might qualify with fewer credits, but generally a worker needs 40 credits to qualify. Twenty of those credits must be earned within the 10 years before becoming disabled. Recent work and duration of work is determined using the following formulas.

Recent Employment

You must complete a certain amount of work in a particular time frame to meet the recent work requirements. That time frame takes into account the age at which you became disabled.

Time frames are based on the calendar quarter in which you turn a certain age:

  •  First Quarter: January 1 – March 31
  • Second Quarter: April 1 – June 30 
  • Third Quarter: July 1 – September 30 
  • Fourth Quarter: October 1 – December 31

To determine the amount of work that must be completed, follow the chart below:

If you become disabled...
Then you generally need
In or before the quarter you turn 24
6 credits or 1.5 years of work over the 3-year period before the disability started
In the quarter after you turn 24 but before the quarter you turn 31
Credits for half of the years between your 21st birthday and the quarter you became disabled. Example: If you became disabled at age 29, you would need four years of work or 16 credits.


In the quarter you turn 31 through 42
20 credits
At 42 through 62
Credits that equal your age subtracted by 12. Example: if you become disabled at age 50, you will need 28 credits
At or after 62
40 credits

Employment Duration

You must have worked long enough in the federal government’s eyes to receive Social Security Disability Benefits. Work does not need to fall within a certain time period. Below is a sample of ages and the average amount of work needed to qualify.

If you become disabled
Then you generally need
Before age 28
1.5 years of work
Age 30
2 years of work
Age 34
3 years of work
Age 38
4 years of work
Age 42
5 years of work
Age 44
5.5 years of work
Age 46
6 years of work
Age 48
6.5 years of work
Age 50
7 years of work
Age 52
7.5 years of work
Age 54
8 years of work
Age 56
8.5 years of work
Age 58
9 years of work
Age 60
9.5 years of work

Note: blind applicants typically do not have to satisfy the recent work test. 

Determining Severity of Disability

Once you have satisfied the work requirements, you must meet the definition of disability.

Social Security pays only for total disability.

Under Social Security, disability is based on a person’s inability to work. It’s a very strict definition, but you fit it if

  1. You cannot do the work that you once did
  2. Social Security decides that you cannot adjust to other forms of work because of this medical condition, and
  3. Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

No short-term disability is provided through Social Security because the federal government assumes that working families will have access to workers’ compensation, insurance, savings and investments for support during short-term disability periods.

Once the Social Security Administration completes your employment evaluation, the application will be sent to the Disability Determination Services (DDS) to complete the disability assessment.

Note: The DDS uses doctors and disability specialists in the state agency to request information from your doctors about your condition. 

The DDS considers all facts in your case and inquires about your medical condition, when it began, how it limits your activities, what medical tests have shown, and what treatment you have received.

Five-Step Process

Social Security uses a 5-step process to determine if the disability is severe enough to qualify for benefits.

Step 1. Current work status 

Generally, Social Security will not consider you disabled if you are working and earning more than a specified monthly amount—in 2015, that amount is $1,090 per month. (The Social Security Administration publishes the specified monthly amount each year.)

If you’re not working or earning less than the specified amount, the DDS will use steps 2-5 to make the decision on your medical condition.

Step 2. Severity of condition

To be considered severe, the disability must significantly limit the ability to perform basic work activities—lifting, standing, walking, sitting, or remembering—for at least 12 months.

If this qualification is satisfied, the DDS will move on to step three.

Step 3. Is the condition listed?

The Social Security Administration maintains a comprehensive list of medical conditions and circumstances that automatically mean a person is disabled.

For a condensed version of Social Security’s list of medical conditions, see Appendix A.

If the condition is listed, you will be found disabled.

If a condition is not listed, the DDS must decide if the severity is equal to a medical condition on the list. If that is not determined, the DDS will continue to steps 4 and 5.

Step 4. Can you reasonably perform your previous work?

If your condition is not on the list and is not equally as severe as one on the list, the DDS must establish that it prevents you from performing any of your past work. If that interference is determined, then the DDS moves on to step 5.

If your medical condition does not interfere with your ability to do the previous work, your qualification claim will be denied.

Step 5. Can you perform any other type of work?

The agency will consider your age, education, past work experience, and any special skills you may have to determine if you can do other work that what you had previously. If you can adjust to other work, you will not qualify for benefits. 

If you are considered unable to do other work, your application for benefits will most likely be approved.

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Key Questions:  Administrative Law Judges

What is the role of an administrative law judge in the SSDI process?

The Social Security Administration has a branch called the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR).  Within this branch, there are approximately 1,100 administrative law judges (ALJ) in more than 140 hearing offices who preside over administrative hearings that resemble a trial.  Their goal is to try and resolve a dispute between Social Security and the person who is affected by a decision made by Social Security officials. 

Because most claims are rejected during an initial filing, when people appeal that finding, after another level of review, the case is then heard by an administrative law judge.

What happens at an SSDI hearing overseen by an administrative law judge?

Before a hearing takes place, an administrative law judge will review a claimant’s file to familiarize themselves with the facts of the claim.  In addition, prior to the hearing taking place, the judge may decide that expert testimony is required and request that a medical expert or a vocational expert be called upon to testify.  Medical experts will help the judge understand a person’s particular set of medical circumstances and the corresponding limitations that have led to a claim being filed.  A vocational expert may be called upon to testify as to what kind of jobs a person with the type of disability in the claim could possibly do.  Medical and vocational experts are contracted by Social Security.

At the hearing, a claimant or their representative, which may be a non-lawyer advocate or an attorney, will present additional evidence to support the approval of a claim.  They may also dispute the current findings reached during the initial review process.

After a hearing is completed, what happens next?

Upon completion of the hearing, the ALJ will either approve or deny a request.  A decision letter is mailed to a claimant and can take anywhere from two weeks to two months before a decision is rendered. 

In general, disability judges make more approvals at their level than at the lower levels.  Part of the reason for this is that a claimant may have undergone medical treatments or diagnoses that helps to strengthen their claim before they appear in front of a judge, or their medical condition may have worsened, or an attorney may have additional evidence not available previously.

Key Questions:  Social Security Disability Lawyer/Attorney

I am not comfortable representing myself to Social Security.  What options do I have in seeking out someone to help me?

You are allowed to retain the services of a disability representative who can assist you in presenting your claim to Social Security.  Someone who assists you may be termed a disability advocate or a disability representative.  The two terms are interchangeable.  The advocate is someone who will support you by answering your questions, work with your doctors to obtain appropriate records, represent you to Social Security at hearings and provide general support so that you can successfully obtain a disability benefit.

It is important to note that this representative can either be a lawyer or a nonlawyer.  This is because under the Social Security Act of 2004, to help eliminate a large backlog of disability claimants, Congress passed a law that allowed representatives to work on behalf of those seeking benefits.  Advocates are many times a part of large legal firms and work with claimants despite not having a law degree.  Their work is fairly specialized and they can help streamline the disability process by virtue or their ongoing and fulltime efforts in this area. 

Disability claimants may also want to consider hiring a lawyer who can provide them with additional benefits over and above those of an advocate.

What are the advantages of hiring a disability lawyer?

Some people may be comfortable using an advocate, but when hiring an attorney to represent you to Social Security, you are engaging a much more highly trained professional who has been trained to spot and deal with more complicated legal issues, including things such as helping you get SSDI back pay or any lump sums you may be entitled to. 

In many cases, a claimant will be required present legal arguments, advocate using prior case laws, depose and interview expert witnesses and write legal briefs, which often fall beyond the scope of competency of an advocate, despite the fact that they must display a certain level of competency to represent clients to Social Security.   Another advantage to hiring a lawyer is that they are bound by “attorney/client” privilege and are limited as to what they can divulge about a client in addition to also being bound by professional rules of conduct governed by their state bar association. 

What are my chances of winning a disability claim if I decide to go it alone?

Every case is different, but you must remember that the stakes are high when you are seeking benefits that will have a dramatic impact on your life for many years to come.  Statistics show that most claims are denied at the initial claim level, regardless of whether or not a person has a lawyer representing them.  However, when a person is rejected, they must go to a hearing in front of an administrative law judge, and it is at this stage when having a lawyer represent you can assist you heavily in winning your case. 

Of course, there are no guarantees that you will have a positive outcome at your hearing, but by retaining a lawyer, you have the best chance of having your facts and information properly presented at the hearing.  Because disability lawyers deal with these types of cases all the time, they will know exactly what to do to give you the best chance.  Attempting to do the same on your own could lead to failure. 

Another thing to remember is that disability attorneys are paid on a contingency basis only, so if you don’t win your case, they will not get paid.  So it is in their best interests to see you have the best possible chances to win your case as well.  And, in Social Security cases, attorneys are limited to collecting a maximum of $6,000.

How to Expedite the SSDI Application's 5-Step Process

To expedite new disability claims, the following initiatives have been instated:

Compassionate Allowances: These are cases in which the qualification for disability can be allowed immediately following the diagnosis. Examples: Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), pancreatic cancer, acute leukemia

Quick Disability Determinations: sophisticated computer screening is used here to identify cases that have a high probability of allowance.

Continuation of Disability Benefits

In most cases disability benefits will be paid for as long as a person is disabled. Law requires that the case be reviewed from time to time to verify the disability. If your health improves while receiving benefits, you are responsible for updating the Social Security Administration.

Payment of Benefits

Once the application is approved, the first benefit will be paid to you for the sixth full month after the date that the disability began.

All disability benefits are paid in the month that follows the month for which they are due.  

Monthly disability benefits are entirely based on the lifetime average earnings covered by Social Security. You can receive an estimate here.

Social Security Disability Work Incentives

Special rules make it possible for those receiving SSDI benefits to go back to work while continuing to be paid the monthly benefits. This is for those workers whose disability is not life threatening and have some capacity to work.

Three incentives are offered by SSDI for people attempting to go back to work: trial work period, extended period of eligibility, and expedited reinstatement.

Trial work period

A trial work period allows you to test your ability to work. You are able to receive your full disability as long as your work activity is reported to the Social Security Administration and you continue to be disabled.

You must report your work to the Social Security Administration in order to qualify.

During the trial period you can accumulate a maximum of 9 months of work with any pay grade over a 60-month period and still receive full benefits. A month is considered part of your trial work period if you earn more than $750 (as of 2015) or work more than 80 hours if you are self-employed.

Extended period of eligibility

Following your trial work period, you will enter a 36-month extended period of eligibility. It is in this period that you can work and still receive benefits only as long as your earnings are less than what Social Security considers ‘substantial’. Social Security deducts what they consider ‘work expenses’ that are a direct result of your disability from your total monthly earnings. These ‘work expenses’ can range from prescription drug co-pays and transportation to and from work to specialized work equipment.

Expedited reinstatement

If you exceed the level of substantial earnings at a point beyond the trial work period, your benefits will be stopped. However, you can receive expedited reinstatement that allows you to restart your benefits any time within the five years following your withdrawal if you are unable to keep working because of your condition. You will not need to reapply.

Continuation of Medicare Coverage

Most who work with disabilities will continue to receive at least 93 consecutive months of the following Medicare coverage after the 9-month Trial Work Period: Hospital (Part A); Supplemental Medical Insurance (Part B), if enrolled; and Prescription Drug coverage (Part D), if enrolled.

Eligibility for Families

Once you begin receiving Social Security Disability Benefits, certain family members may also qualify to receive benefits on your record. Qualifying members include a spouse, a divorced spouse, children, a disabled child and/or an adult child disabled before age 22.

The maximum amount each family member is eligible to receive is 50 percent of the disability rate. The total payment to an entire family, however, is capped.

Each beneficiary’s rate depends on your benefit amount and the number of family members who will be receiving benefits based on your record. According to the Social Security Administration, the total will vary, but generally, the total amount you and your family can receive is about 150 to 180 percent of your disability benefit.

Your benefit amount will not be affected by your family’s benefits.

Disabled Child Eligibility

A disabled child can claim disability benefits as a dependent of their parent(s) until they are 18 or they can claim as an ‘Adult Child’ if they were disabled between the ages of 18-22.

Children under the age of 18

If a disabled child is claiming disability benefits as a parent’s dependent, the benefits will stop at the age of 18 unless he or she is a full-time student and will turn 19 before graduating.

Adult Children

A disabled person over the age of 18 can continue to receive benefits through the parent’s record if his or her disability began before the age of 22 and their parent is deceased, collecting retirement, or collecting disability. Social Security refers to someone in this category as an ‘Adult Child.’

For the adult child to receive benefits, he or she must:

  • Be unmarried, age 18 or older, and have a disability that started before age 22
  • Not have ‘substantial’ earnings as determined by Social Security
  • Meet the definition of disability for adults

Note: if the adult child gets married, the benefits generally end except in the case of marriage to another disabled adult child.

Those who have served or are currently serving in the military are eligible for special SSDI requirements under SSDI if they have paid into Social Security taxes. Any disability benefits received from Social Security are entirely separate from those received from Veterans’ Affairs.

Expedited Processing

As a member of the military, you may also be eligible for expedited processing of disability claims. This process can be used for military service members who become disabled during active duty service on or after October 1, 2001.

Past Disability Benefits

SSDI offers Past Disability Benefits for veterans and active duty military. This program allows you to receive benefits for a past disability even if your health has improved. The following stipulations do apply:

Medical evidence must be available that you were unable to work substantially for a continuous period of 12 months.

You must apply within 14 months of your condition improving.

You can only receive up to 12 months of retroactive benefits from the date you file your application with Social Security.

There will be a 5-month waiting period between when your disability started and when you start receiving retroactive benefits. Please see the example below for further clarification.

Example: You file an application to receive Social Security Disability Benefits in November of 2014 for a period of disability that began on March 19, 2013 and ended in August 2014. This is called a closed period of disability. Your five-month waiting period would include April to August of 2013. Thus, you would only receive Past Disability Benefits for the months of September 2013 through August 2014, a total of 11 months. You would receive your first benefits check in December 2014 and would continue to receive a monthly check through August 2015, again a total of 11 months.

Benefits for Members of Military Families

Certain members of your family may also be eligible for benefits through SSDI. These family members include:

  • Spouse over the age of 62
  • Spouse who is caring for a child of yours who is either disabled or under the age of 16
  • Any unmarried children who are below the age of 18. Adopted children, stepchildren, or grandchildren may qualify in some cases
  • An unmarried child over the age of 18 with a disability that began before the age of 22; The child must be considered disabled under the federal government’s definition of disability.

Note for those members of the military who are on or will be on active duty after receiving disability benefits: If you remain on active duty after filing for disability, you can still receive Social Security Disability Benefits, but you must notify your Social Security agent if your MOS code, AFSC, NEC or PCS changes as it may affect your benefits.

Special Requirements for the Blind

Social Security considers a person blind if his or her vision cannot be corrected better than 20/200 in the better eye or if the better eye’s visual field is 20 degrees or less.

If you do not meet Social Security’s standards for blindness, you can still receive special benefits for low vision if the vision problems alone or combined with other health issues prevent you from working.

For Social Security Disability Benefits, you must meet the federal government’s work requirements for length in a job where you have paid Social Security taxes.

Several adjustments have been made to accommodate loss of sight. When you are blind, you can earn credits toward SSDI anytime during your working years. Credits for the work done after you become blind can qualify you for benefits if you don’t have enough credits at that time. You can also qualify for benefits based on the earnings of your spouse or a parent(s) if you haven’t earned enough credits.

If you are blind and not currently receiving SSDI because you are working, you may be eligible for higher retirement or disability in the future. This is especially true if your income is affected by the blindness. The years in which you earn a lower salary can be excluded when your Social Security retirement or disability benefits are calculated.

The monthly cap on salary fluctuates yearly and is slightly higher for those who are blind or have low vision. If you are self-employed, you do not have to abide by a certain number of hours worked. Instead, you can work as much as you want for your business while receiving disability as long as your earnings don’t exceed the monthly cap.

Check Your Eligibility

Find out if you’re eligible for Disability with our free evaluation form. There is no obligation to enroll in a plan. Enter your zip code to begin.

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Focus on: Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

The Supplemental Security Income program assists about 8 million people a year who are 65 or older, blind or otherwise disabled, are U.S. citizens or legal residents, and who have an extremely limited income.  In some instances, people who collect SSI payments will also be able to collect SSDI payments as well, but they will need to qualify under different sets of circumstances for each program.  SSDI bases payments on a person’s work history, while there are no work history requirements to receive SSI payments.  In most cases, states will also provide a supplemental payment above and beyond the federal payment as well.

Assuming you meet income and resource limits, the key thing Social Security will focus on is whether or not you are disabled.  This means your medical records will be closely scrutinized and Social Security will contact your caregivers to get a complete picture of your current medical condition.  For this reason, it is important to visit your doctors regularly and make sure your medical issues are well documented.  The disability approval process is the same for SSI benefits as it is for SSDI benefits, so if you are already receiving SSDI benefits, you have a pretty good indication of what you need to do to get SSI benefits.

What are the eligibility requirements for SSI?

In addition to age, citizenship and disability requirements, Social Security also has strict guidelines about how much and what kind of assets a person may have in order to qualify for Supplemental Security Income eligibility.  When determining if benefits are available or not, Social Security takes into account income is included from a variety of sources including wages, self-employment, Social Security benefits, unemployment, pension benefits, gambling winnings, alimony, child support, inheritances, public assistance and help from friends and family members.  In addition, if a person is married and applying for a benefit, a portion of their spouse’s income can be counted as well.  Going over a certain threshold from these combined sources may disqualify a person from receiving an SSI benefit.

In addition, SSI is a long-term disability program, meaning that to be eligible, a person must have a disability that has lasted or is expected to last for a minimum of at least one year and is serious enough to keep them from working at meaningful employment.  A person can still work, but due to their disability, they are limited in how much money they can make.

Personal assets are also taken into consideration when applying for SSI.  This includes bank accounts, property, stocks and related resources.  Individuals with under $2,000 in resources and couples with under $3,000 in resources are eligible for SSI.

How much should I expect to receive as a benefit amount?

In 2016, the full benefit amount for an individual was $733 and $1,100 for a couple. For 2017, a .3% cost of living adjustment was made, so that benefits are now $735 and $1,103 respectively.

To see how unearned income may impact your benefit amount, you can access a Supplmemental Security Income calculator.

How do I apply for SSI?

To apply for SSI, schedule an appointment with a local Social Security agent by calling 1-800-772-1213 or TDD 1-800-325-0078. Your agent will guide you through the process and get you extra assistance filling out the application if you need it. The application must be done with the agent and is not available online.

Are additional benefits available at the state level?

In most instances, states will supplement federal SSI benefit amounts.  Currently, Arizona, Mississippi, North Dakota and West Virginia are the only states that do not provide beneficiaries with an added supplement.  The amount you will receive depends on many factors including your marital status, age, current living situation and other factors.  State supplemental payment ranges up to $200. 

What are my chances for SSI approval?

Many people are initially rejected when they first submit a Supplemental Security Income application.  The approval rate is only 30% on initial claims and the appeal rate is even lower at 15%.  The two main reasons people are rejected is because their income limits are too high, or they are not classified as disabled.

Where can I get more information on Supplemental Security Income?

The Social Security Administration has complete information on the SSI program and can be accessed at SSI.gov

You can also go to the SSI section on the Eligibility.com website at SSI Eligibility.com

Appendix A—Social Security Listing of Impairments

The Social Security Administration maintains a comprehensive list of medical conditions and circumstances for each major body system that automatically mean a person is disabled. The list describes the impairments that are considered severe enough to qualify for disability.

Questions regarding specific cases should be directed here. This list is divided by Adult and Childhood Conditions. Some of the conditions are listed under both.

Adult Listings

Musculoskeletal System

  1. Disorders of the musculoskeletal system
  2. Major dysfunction of a joint(s) (due to any cause)
  3. Reconstructive surgery or surgical arthrodesis of a major weight-bearing joint
  4. Disorders of the spine
  5. Amputation (due to any cause)
  6. Fracture of the femur, tibia, pelvis, or one or more of the tarsal bones
  7. Fracture of an upper extremity
  8. Soft tissue injury

Special Senses and Speech

  1. Loss of central visual acuity
  2. Contraction of the visual field in the better eye
  3. Loss of visual efficiency, or visual impairment, in the better eye
  4. Disturbance of labyrinthine-vestibular function
  5. Loss of speech
  6. Hearing loss treated/not treated with cochlear implantation (please refer to the website in the introduction)

Respiratory System

  1. Chronic pulmonary insufficiency
  2. Asthma
  3. Cystic fibrosis
  4. Pneumoconiosis
  5. Bronchiectasis
  6. Mycobacterial, mycotic, and other chronic persistent infections of the lung
  7. Cor pulmonale secondary to chronic pulmonary vascular hypertension
  8. Sleep-related breathing disorders
  9. Lung transplant

Cardiovascular System

  1. Chronic heart failure
  2. Ischemic heart disease
  3. Recurrent arrhythmias
  4. Symptomatic congenital heart disease
  5. Heart transplant
  6. Aneurysm of aorta or major branches
  7. Chronic venous insufficiency
  8. Peripheral arterial disease

Digestive System

  1. Gastrointestinal hemorrhaging from any cause, requiring blood transfusion
  2. Chronic liver disease
  3. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  4. Short bowel syndrome (SBS)
  5. Weight loss due to any digestive disorder
  6. Liver transplantation

Genitourinary Disorders

  1. Chronic kidney disease (please refer to the website in the introduction)
  2. Nephrotic syndrome
  3. Complications of chronic kidney disease

Hematological Disorders

  1. Hemolytic anemias
  2. Disorders of thrombosis and hemostasis
  3. Disorders of bone marrow failure
  4. Hematological disorders treated by bone marrow or stem cell transplantation
  5. Repeated complications of hematological disorders

Skin Disorders

  1. Ichthyosis
  2. Bullous disease
  3. Chronic infections of the skin or mucous membranes
  4. Dermatitis
  5. Hidradenitis suppurativa
  6. Genetic photosensitivity disorders
  7. Burns

Endocrine Disorders (including but not limited to)

  1. Pituitary gland disorders
  2. Thyroid gland disorders
  3. Parathyroid gland disorders
  4. Adrenal gland disorders
  5. Diabetes mellitus and other pancreatic gland disorders
  6. Hypoglycemia

Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems

Non-mosaic Down syndrome

Neurological

  1. Epilepsy (convulsive and nonconvulsive)
  2. Central nervous system vascular accident
  3. Benign brain tumors
  4. Parkinsonian syndrome
  5. Cerebral palsy
  6. Spinal cord or nerve root lesions, due to any cause
  7. Multiple sclerosis
  8. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  9. Anterior poliomyelitis
  10. Myasthenia gravis
  11. Muscular dystrophy
  12. Peripheral neuropathies
  13. Subacute combined cord degeneration (pernicious anemia)
  14. Other degenerative disease
  15. Cerebral trauma
  16. Syringomyelia

Mental Disorders

  1. Organic mental orders
  2. Schizophrenic, paranoid and other psychotic disorders
  3. Affective disorders
  4. Intellectual disability (see further info)
  5. Anxiety-related disorders
  6. Somatoform disorders
  7. Personality disorders
  8. Substance addiction disorders
  9. Autistic disorder and other pervasive developmental disorders

Cancer

  1. Soft tissue cancer of the head and neck
  2. Skin
  3. Soft tissue sarcoma
  4. Lymphoma
  5. Leukemia
  6. Multiple myeloma
  7. Salivary glands
  8. Thyroid gland
  9. Breast
  10. Skeletal system
  11. Maxilla, orbit, or temporal fossa
  12. Nervous system
  13. Lungs
  14. Pleura or mediastinum
  15. Esophagus or stomach
  16. Small intestine
  17. Large intestine
  18. Liver or gallbladder
  19. Pancreas
  20. Kidneys, adrenal glands, or ureters
  21. Urinary bladder
  22. Cancers of the female genital tract
  23. Prostate gland
  24. Testicles
  25. Penis
  26. Primary site unknown after appropriate search for primary
  27. Cancer treated by bone marrow or stem cell transplantation
  28. Malignant melanoma

Immune System Disorders

  1. Systemic lupus erythematosus
  2. Systemic vasculitis
  3. Systemic sclerosis
  4. Polymyositis and dermatomyositis
  5. Undifferentiated and mixed connective tissue disease
  6. Immune deficiency disorders, excluding HIV infection
  7. Human immunodeficiency virus infection
  8. Inflammatory arthritis
  9. Sjögren’s syndrome

Childhood Listing

Low Birth Weight and Failure to Thrive

Low birth weight in infants from birth to attainment of age 1

Failure to thrive in children from birth to attainment of age 3

Musculoskeletal System

  1. Major dysfunction of a joint (due to any cause)
  2. Reconstructive surgery or surgical arthrodesis of a major weight-bearing joint
  3. Disorders of the spine
  4. Amputation (due to any cause)
  5. Fracture of the femur, tibia, pelvis, or one or more of the tarsal bones
  6. Fracture of an upper extremity
  7. Soft tissue injury

Special Senses and Speech

  1. Loss of central visual acuity
  2. Contraction of the visual field in the better eye
  3. Loss of visual efficiency, or visual impairment, in the better eye
  4. Hearing loss treated/not treated with cochlear implantation (please refer to the website in the introduction)

Respiratory System

  1. Chronic pulmonary insufficiency
  2. Asthma (in specific cases)
  3. Cystic fibrosis
  4. Lung transplant
  5. Growth failure due to any respiratory disorder

Cardiovascular System

  1. Chronic heart failure
  2. Recurrent arrhythmias
  3. Congenital heart disease
  4. Heart transplant
  5. Rheumatic heart disease

Digestive System

  1. Gastrointestinal hemorrhaging from any cause, requiring blood transfusion
  2. Chronic liver disease
  3. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  4. Short bowel syndrome (SBS)
  5. Growth failure due to any digestive disorder
  6. Liver transplantation
  7. Need for supplemental daily enteral feeding via a gastrostomy

Genitourinary Disorders

  1. Chronic kidney disease (please refer to the website in the introduction)
  2. Nephrotic syndrome
  3. Congenital genitourinary disorder
  4. Growth failure due to any chronic renal disease
  5. Complications of chronic kidney disease (please refer to the website in the introduction)

Hematological Disorders

  1. Hemolytic anemias
  2. Disorders of thrombosis and hemostasis
  3. Disorders of bone marrow failure
  4. Hematological disorders treated by bone marrow or stem cell transplantation

Skin Disorders

  1. Ichthyosis
  2. Bullous disease
  3. Chronic infections of the skin or mucous membranes
  4. Dermatitis
  5. Hidradenitis suppurativa
  6. Genetic photosensitivity disorders
  7. Burns

Endocrine Disorders

Any type of diabetes mellitus in a child who requires insulin and has not attained age 6

Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems

  1. Non-mosaic Down Syndrome
  2. A catastrophic congenital disorder (please refer to the website in the introduction)

Neurological

  1. Major motor seizure disorder
  2. Nonconvulsive epilepsy
  3. Benign brain tumors
  4. Motor dysfunction (due to any neurological disorder)
  5. Cerebral palsy
  6. Meningomyelocele
  7. Communication impairment associated with documented neurological disorder

Mental Disorders

  1. Organic mental orders (see further info)
  2. Schizophrenic, paranoid and other psychotic disorders
  3. Affective disorders
  4. Intellectual disability (see further info)
  5. Anxiety-related disorders
  6. Somatoform disorders
  7. Personality disorders
  8. Substance addiction disorders
  9. Autistic disorder and other pervasive developmental disorders

Cancer (more)

  1. Malignant solid tumors
  2. Lymphoma (excluding lymphoblastic lymphoma)
  3. Leukemia
  4. Thyroid gland
  5. Retinoblastoma
  6. Nervous system
  7. Neuroblastoma
  8. Malignant melanoma

Immune System Disorders

  1. Systemic lupus erythematosus
  2. Systemic vasculitis
  3. Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma)
  4. Polymyositis and dermatomyositis
  5. Undifferentiated and mixed connective tissue disease
  6. Immune deficiency disorders, excluding HIV infection
  7. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection
  8. Inflammatory arthritis
  9. Sjögren’s syndrome


Key Questions – Medical Conditions and SSDI Eligibility


What is the Blue Book of Impairments and how will this impact my chances of receiving SSDI benefits?

To process claims, Social Security uses a document called the Blue Book of Impairments.  Any condition or disability listed in this book is considered severe enough to make someone eligible to receive SSDI payments.  Many of the disabilities listed in this book are permanent, chronic and in many cases fatal.  If a person has a disability and it is listed in the Blue Book, this will greatly simplify their application process, assuming they provide needed documentation.  However, it does not guarantee that someone will be approved.  In fact, despite being listed in the Blue Book, many people with ailments may still be rejected for one reason or another. 

My condition is not listed in the Blue Book.  Can I still receive SSDI benefits?

While the Blue Book is a fairly comprehensive guide, by no means does it contain every ailment or disability that could keep a person from working.  If you have a condition not listed in the Blue Book (i.e. Lyme disease, thyroid problems, narcolepsy, and many others), you can still apply for SSDI.  The main thing to remember is that you will need to provide substantial proof that your condition has rendered you unable to work. 

Many people retain the services of an attorney who specializes in SSDI cases to help them prepare their arguments.  At the very least, an application will need to include complete medical records documenting the disability, testimony and sworn statements from doctors, a detailed and documented work history, and other related documents to help make the strongest case possible. 

What are Compassionate Allowances and how might that affect my ability to obtain SSDI benefits?

Social Security makes allowances for people to receive benefits quickly if they suffer from medical conditions that are so obvious that they easily meet disability standards. Compassionate Allowances quickly identify diseases and medical conditions that fall under the Blue Book of Impairments will minimal medical information.  This allows Social Security to speed the process of helping people obtain benefits in the shortest amount of time possible.

The list of Compassionate Allowances has been developed based on public hearing held by Social Security, along with input from medical and scientific experts and the National Institutes of Health.  Currently allowances include disabilities such as Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, organ transplants, schizophrenia, and others.

A full list of Compassionate Allowances can be found here.

Key Questions - SSDI Payments

What dates will I receive my SSDI payments in 2017?

Benefits are paid to recipients based on when their birthday falls in a month. 

  • A person with a birthday that falls between the 1st and the 10th day of a month will be paid on the 2nd Wednesday of the month.
  • A person with a birthday that falls between the 11st and the 20th day of a month will be paid on the 3rd Wednesday of the month.
  • A person with a birthday that falls between the 21st and the 31st day of a month will be paid on the 4th Wednesday of the month.

For the most part, all SSI payments are made on the 1st of every month, regardless of when a person’s birthday takes place.  The only exceptions are when the 1st of the month falls on a weekend or a federal holiday.

Social Security has published a calendar showing the exact payment dates for 2017 and 2018.

What if I don’t get my SSDI payment on the day that I am supposed to receive it?

Social Security requests that claimants wait three days to pass after a scheduled payment date before contacting the agency to let them know you have not been paid yet.  Missing payments are rare because most all SSDI payments are made by direct deposit only into a payee’s bank account.  Payees can also opt to receive payments through the Direct Express card program which adds payments to a card that can be swiped much like a bank debit card.  Another method employed by Social Security is an electronic transfer account that makes automatic payments on your behalf from your SSDI benefits.

What else should I know about how my payments are processed?

There are a couple of key things to remember.  First, if you are a spouse and receiving SSDI survivor benefits, your payment into your bank account will be based not on your birthday, but on the birthday of the deceased person upon which the payments are based.  Second, SSDI payments are made on an accrual basis.  This means that the payment you receive one month is based on the benefits you accrued in the preceding month.  For example, if you are paid in July, that payment is based on benefits you accrued in June.

Who To Contact If You Have Further Questions

For any further information or details regarding Social Security Disability Insurance, contact the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213.

Social Security Disability Insurance Resources

Below, you’ll find contacts and website that can more thoroughly help you determine whether or not you are eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits, provide assistance with applications, and educate you on your options.

Social Security Administration. This is the official website for Social Security and includes in-depth information about Retirement, SSI and SSDI, Medicare and so much more. Visit the website here or call (800) 772-1213.

Social Security’s Disability Planner. The disability planner will instruct you on how to qualify and apply for SSDI benefits, offer approval information, help you with Medicare coverage and more. Start planning here today.

Full listing of Impairments

Video Series by the Social Security Administration explaining the Claims Process

Social Security Disability Resource Center

Disability.gov