Disability, SSI

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits

May 30, 2016 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: March 17, 2021

disabled woman with carer in gardenMany people think that disability is something that happens to someone else. Unfortunately, disability is unpredictable and can happen to any person, at any age. Millions of Americans live with disabilities. Disability affects those afflicted and their families.

Social Security’s disability program provides medical and financial support to disabled individuals and their families in a time of need. The Social Security Act sets out a strict definition of disability. We pay benefits to people with a severe medical condition that prevents them from performing substantial work, and expected to last at least one year or result in death. Social Security does not pay benefits for partial disability or short-term disability.

We pay disability benefits through two programs: the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. The SSDI program provides benefits to disabled or blind people who worked and contributed to the Social Security trust fund as required by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act. The SSI program makes cash assistance payments to aged, blind, and disabled people who have limited income and resources. SSI benefit payments do not come from the Social Security trust fund.

You should apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled. To apply for disability benefits, you will need to complete an application for Social Security benefits. You can apply online. When you visit our website, select “Apply for Benefits,” and follow the link to get a Disability Starter Kit. This kit will help you get ready for your disability interview or online application. If we find you’re eligible for Social Security disability benefits, there’s a five-month waiting period before we can begin your benefits. Applying for benefits as soon as you become disabled will allow for benefits to start sooner.

You can also call our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), to make an appointment to apply for benefits at your local Social Security office or to set up an appointment for someone to take your claim over the telephone.

When disability strikes, Social Security is there providing financial support to people when they need it most.


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About the Author

Doug Walker, Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Deputy Commissioner, Office of Communications

Comments

  1. Daniel D.

    May 31, 2016

    I applied twice turned down both times. Waiting for my hearing on my appeal. I had to retain a lawyer.
    I am 100% disabled rating from the VA. They said that I was unlikely to get another job. PTSD is a devastating disease.

  2. Pandit

    I strongly resent that many oldies who never worked in this country, immigrate from other countries and receive supplemental social security. It is a tax burden on tax paying people who work hard to earn their social security benefits. I strongly believe that supplemental social security should be paid only to those who are receiving social security.

    • yourenotfoolinanyone

      That sounds great except what about the people like my son who were born with severe disabilities and were never able to work and therefore pay into the system? My son hasn’t paid dime one into social security-he simply is not able to contribute. In other words- he is DIS-ABLED. In my opinion, this is the population who should be the beneficiaries of the most assistance. But, so many others, and you know who you are, milk it for a free ride. You really ought to be ashamed of yourselves. Your choices do have a direct effect on the quality of life of some of the truly disabled- the people for whom SSI is in spirit meant to care for. Happily, for my son, I am able to pick up where the government leaves off. But there are many out there who are not as fortunate.

    • Joyce S.

      the question that started was social security RETIREMENT and social security DISABILITY paid at the same time …which no the government wont do

      • Joe W.

        So then you can keep drawing disability? And not retire? It seems kind of crazy because you retired the minute you become disabled. Or does turning retirement age become an excuse to cut off survivors benefits?

  3. Pam

    I think if you are already receiving SSA benefits you can’t get any additional SSA benefits because you are disabled, unless your SSA benefit amount is less than the current SSI monthly benefit amount.

    • John O.

      You can if your disability began before you reached the full retirement age OR the amount of your income is less than the SSI amount plus 20 dollars.

  4. Robert W.

    I also would like to see the answer to this one…

    Charles M. Alexander on May 30, 2016 at 5:20 pm said:
    “I have sever post polio syndrome and am 71yrs. old. My only income is social security. Could I possibly get disability?”

    • Steve

      No you can not. I was on disability and at 66 was switched to social security, same payment but different department.

      • TeeMizzle

        You’re supposed to get both. They are two entirely different things.

        • John O.

          No, you are not. After full retirement age you are taken off of the disability rolls. This does not effect your payment.

          • Lael

            John, you are exactly right, as of now. It could all change soon but for now it’s one or the other. I’m on SSDI now. In a couple of years it will switch to SSI.

        • Joyce S.

          NNNNOOOOOPPPE !!

    • Ray F.

      Social Security disability benefits automatically change to retirement benefits when disability beneficiaries attain their full retirement age. If a person has reached his or her full retirement age (Currently 66) and is receiving Social Security retirement, they will not be eligible for disability benefits. The Supplemental Security Income or SSI is a program that pays benefits to disabled adult and children and the elderly with limited income and resources. Please read our publication about the SSI program for more information. We hope this information helps!

      • Joyce S.

        how poor or old do you have to be???? my husband and i together come no where near the “low “income for help for medicare is 75000.00 yr our social security is less than 35000.00 yr he was at his job for 20 + years and i had 13 years in…….no help no food card no medicaid nothing! we are 52……

  5. Noreen M.

    I have Systemic Scleroderma and PTSD..YET I was denied two time and now have to wait for a Haring before a Judge..I worked my whole life. I told my husband SSA is just waiting to let me die..No income for over a year. Applied on April 24,2015. Things are bad at home. Real sick and yet DR’s who had my Medical reports state I could do the same job as before. I bet the DRS did not even read my job description and what I had to do WHICH I CANNOT DO ANYMORE….I cannot lift let alone carry Medical charts, I can not write anymore…Always dizzy from all the Meds I take each day, cannot even walk a straight line…Just sitting at home waiting to die….

    • Allen C.

      When you get past the automatic turn downs and go to a Hearing with a Judge the burden of proof changes and they have to prove what you CAN do with an expert and that the jobs your CAN do are available in your immediate area. Only a very few listed conditions can get you approved in the early process but at a Hearing it all changes. Your age matters also especially when over 50.

      • Angela R.

        But what do you do in the meantime? I’ve been told it will take approximately 18-24 months before I’m scheduled for a hearing. So no income until after then. I understand her feeling that they’re waiting on you to give up or die.

  6. Steve

    SSI or SSDI, your quality of life will change from when you were working. But, without the assistance you’ll really have nothing! Life goes on no matter what! I’m thankful that I’m still alive by the Grace of GOD. I should have been dead If I didn’t have His hand of protection upon me!

    • Lael

      Amen Steve.
      My God is a great god and he watches over me all the time. He supplies all my needs. He saved me when I had heart failure like 8 times. The hard times have really been a blessing because when you finally learn to LET GOD, he will always make a way outta no way. Just keep giving thanks for what we do have.

  7. Charles M.

    I have sever post polio syndrome and am 71yrs. old. My only income is social security. Could I possibly get disability?

    • Laura

      If you are unable to work because of your condition, then yes!

      • John O.

        Wrong answer.

        • Hospitals &.

          You could apply for SSI.

      • Joyce S.

        the government DOES NOT pay both it all comes from the same golden pot. these are the same people that …a person dies on april 26 . the benifit check for that month arrives in may…. may? they take that payment back and not consider that they lived 26 days of april (that is received in may)..the family cared and the dead needed supplies and bills paid…. now wait … if that person had waited to die on may 1st…the payment for april can stay….ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!! social security doesnt do crap for those who did not have a job that pays retirement…those who are depending on social security to be the ONLY source of income gets screwed

    • Immigration w.

      Not anymore since you are over the age of 65.

    • John O.

      No, you are beyond the full retirement age.

      • Joe W.

        So what happens at retirement age if part of your disability is based on a parent’s work record who is now dead and you turn retirement age? Do you have to accept retirement at a lower level? Or can you keep getting it with the survivors benefit added?

    • Bob

      No ! People that are on disability lose it and go on regular SS at their retirement age .

  8. BEF

    Is there a particular reason why SSA chooses to refer to people living with disabilities as “afflicted?” So negative and condescending. Surely Deputy Commissioner Walker doesn’t write this stuff, so who writes these blog posts for him anyway?

    • Ingry R.

      BEF,
      Disabilities are an “affliction”! Nothing is wrong or offensive in that word. Please do not try to be so polite to a point of prejudice.
      IRod

      • BEF

        It’s a very 1950s sort of way of depicting someone with a disability. There are many people with disabilities in this country, including wounded warriors, who’ve achieved great professional and personal accomplishments and who don’t view their disability as an “affliction.” Next SSA blog post will probably make reference to “the cripples,” “insane asylums,” or “retards.” This isn’t just about being politically correct–words matter.

      • Lael

        Amen

    • CF

      Afflication is a medical term and is generally used in the English language.

    • yourenotfoolinanyone

      I agree with Ingry Rod on this. I appreciate your sensitivity and your desire to be respectful. And I agree- the word ‘afflicted’ does carry a negative connotation. But, would anybody characterize totally disability as being a pleasant thing? Have we really gone so far with this PC BS that we cant even say that being totally and permanently disabled is undesired, unwelcomed, and a hinderence? Personally, I think it is actually more insensitive to not acknowledge the difficulties and the losses suffered by those who are by definition disabled. To have someone say. ” Hey, what happened to you sucks” actually to me seems more empathetic. You know?

      • Lael

        I couldn’t agree more. Although SOME people have disabilities that allow them to adapt and carry on, there are those of us whose bodies are so messed up that we can’t. There’s no amount of want that can overcome my can’t. And I’m losing my vision. The cherry on the top is the brain fog from the pain meds. Also, CF, before you speak again please educate yourself. Your comments will have some credence then.
        Affliction- noun
        something that causes pain or suffering.
        “a crippling affliction of the nervous system”
        synonyms: disorder, disease, malady, complaint, ailment, illness, indisposition, handicap;
        suffering, distress, pain, trouble, misery, wretchedness, hardship, misfortune, adversity, sorrow, torment, tribulation, woe

  9. Πlot

    Can’t have dream on SSI

  10. Harry

    This is totally BS…I’m a service connected veteran and I’m receiving social security as well as my Civil Service retirement pension.
    I live out here in the Pacific and the cost of everything is outrageous. We need the COLA out here to offset the costs of gasoline, groceries, prescribed meds etc.etc.

    • Laura

      It’s not up to the Social Security Administration to give us a COLA, it’s the responsibility of Congress. And God knows they can’t get anything done.

      • Salem

        Congress in our country local and state don’t have to worry about the poor because they are failing to do as the God said take care of the US who really are needy we should not have to struggle for food shelter medical coverage medical copay and not be educated on how to get care the agencies heads line their pockets and look down on the less fortunate as if we are nothing this is suppose to be the United States?

        • bobby D.

          Trump has $$$$$, so he cannot be bought, he can buy them out, sad that he wants to clean up corrupt DC, also maybe Corrupt Cuomo in Albany NY, I am on SS, noe learned I cannot work past 15.7k, so now I go for assistance, whooppee!

          • I.IM

            Seriously? Have you seen all the documentaries on how Trump has said one thing and then turned out to do what cost him the least amount of money no matter what he promised?
            It would be great if he was really the person he’s telling everyone he is. But just because he says he’ll do something, often doesn’t mean he will.

          • ravanaramclinic

            That’s right
            you can see here:
            https://ravanaramclinic.com

          • andrea

            Are you joking Trump is cleaning up corruption what planet are you from, this man is the corruption.

        • yourenotfoolinanyone

          Define needy

          • Hospitals &.

            Social Security Amendment of January 1, 2016 and 2016 Annual Report to the Board of Trustees of the Federal OASDI Trust Funds and SSI HA-6-6-16 http://www.title24uscodeorg/ss1.htm

          • Gina O.

            We have a federal poverty line that defines it. We don’t have a say in THAT either.

          • Victor Z.

            I am totally agree with you, that is true.
            Victor, web dev at https://onlinecasinozen.com/

        • Lorraine P.

          Amen!

        • teresa

          Tell me another country that you can get free money for being disable. Really how many people on disability are liars, theifs and lazy. Im from california and the DRS and THE. PHYCALOGIST HERE ARE EITHER VERY DUMB OR THEY JUST CANT TELL WEN A PERSON IS LYING. THEY NEED TO BE SUED FOR THERE ACTIONS AND NEVER BE ALOWED TO PRACTICE IN THERE FIELD. ITS A FUNNY FARM. AND YES WE ARE ONE NATJKN UNDER GOD SO UNTIL THIS CORRUPT NATION PUTS GOD FIRST. THEN VOTE FOR WHO AND WAT YOU WANT STOP HOLDIN UR HAND OUT NO BODY OWES US NOTHIN
          AND VOTE TRUMP HELL GET IT GOIN. HILLARY SOLD US OUT LONG TIME AGO. GOOD OL DEMOCRATS FIGHTING FOR THERE OWN POCKETS YOU JUST COMPLAINED ABOUT COLA AND THOUSANDS OF PROGRAMS FOR THE POOR. BUT THEYY STILL NEVER HAVE ENOUGH OR ANY OUTLET SO GO TO ANOTHER COUNTRY AND CRY Y O THEM. AND SEE WAT KIND OF HELP YOU CAN GET FROM THEM…..WAKE UP…..

          • Patricia

            Ummm. Very interesting comment I agreed you until certain point. No everyone expecting for SSA claims are liars. Many people do really need them. That expression of “go and cry to another country to see what you get ” sounds a little bit racist.
            In my case I have been struggling with depression, anxiety, and other condiciona since almost two years ago.
            In my case it is bit “free money” Im contribuiting with the SSA since I was 16, talking back in 1982. Now, after 34 Years of a well deserved money the SSA have the audacity to tell me that my case is on schedule for reaching 2018. I explained my situation and they told me that the waiting time its the San e more less for everybody. So, after 34 Years of constribution, they care less if I become homeless with my daughter. Very interesting.

          • Ray F.

            Thanks for sharing your comment in our blog, Patricia. If you’re referring to the length of time it takes to get a hearing, the waiting can vary from state to state. We attempt to resolve all claims promptly, but there may be delays due to the volume of pending appeals in your area. The good news is that we are trying to conduct many of our hearings through video teleconferencing (VTC) to speed up the process. Visit our “Hearing And Appeals” web page for more information. To see if you are eligible to receive social services or other benefits from the state in which you live while you wait for a medical determination, contact your local social services office. Or you can visit the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) web page for more information.

          • Andre

            Quit your whining if you don’t like this country go to another one I have to say the disability judges in this country all Fruit Loops and they don’t know a disabled man from a disabled dog to give my disability to a kid who’s never worked or paid in disability and now my legs swell all the time unable to walk after paying to FICA almost 40 years and turned down seven times it’s it’s a total sham these judges live in la-la land hey quit your whining about nobody owes anybody anything nobody owes you nothing either

          • Irene

            I know many who get veteran benefits and social security for her spouse disability that is deceased but I can’t get help

          • Kim A.

            I hope you are happy with that orange, scumbag, con man, crook in our White House. You need to get your head out of the sand. A majority of people are poor because of people like him, corporations and politicians who have made their backdoor deals to keep the masses poor and under control.

      • S. D.

        I agree the payments do not consider or care about real living expenses

      • sina

      • behtarinmoshaver

    • George B.

      Live where is more reasonable. No one forces you to live in an expensive area and we are not responsible for supporting you.

      • Enlighten

        He worked many years and paid into FICA, this is insurance, so he isn’t being supported by the people, he paid for this entitlement. Do your homework!

      • adrian w.

        its not that easy to move somewhere cheaper, I want to move out of Baltimore and Washington dc to where theres beaches, I already live on a shoe string so why not where its nice like southern California

        • Joe W.

          When did SoCal get cheap?! Try FL. Does Cal still have it’s state supplement like it did in the 70s?

    • Sandy C.

      I agree – in Las Vegas – rents, electric, water, and now trash pick-up have all gone up! The beef at the stores is way up as is chicken and anything healthy! We should not be forced to shop at the dollar store for food because our government gives our COLA to refugees and other countries! GIVE US OUR MONEY DUE TO US!

      • Joe W.

        I AGREE. Food,medicine and rent keep going up. Our inflation is not based on the cost of Steel and cement. What the hell are they doing in our basket when determining colas. Disabled people don’t buy much steel or cement! Down to eating oatmeal three times a day.

      • Yarkoweb

    • Lael

      Harry, I live on the East Coast and the cost of everything is outrageous. I am disabled, physically, from a car accident 14 yrs ago (back injury). I take 15 different medications everyday, which adds up, with my discount card, to about $300 a month. I can’t qualify for Medicaid BECAUSE I MAKE $22 TOO MUCH. I have no other source of income. It’s hard, really hard. I can’t even afford house help, which I desperately need. So I feel your pain. As Bob Marley said “every man tink dat his burden is di heaviest”. May God bless you with all that you need.

    • Dila S.

      senses and speech issues, such as vision and hearing loss. respiratory illnesses, such as COPD or asthma. Play glxgames with me. neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy. mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, autism, or retardation.

    • Dila S.

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