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.

Tags: , ,

See Comments

About the Author

Doug Walker, Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Deputy Commissioner, Office of Communications


  1. vjones


    SSI is a program for disabled and elderly individuals who have little to no income. Currently the payment i $733.00 if you have no income and assets below $2,000.
    if you get married and you spouse has income that is above the SSI threshold then you will lose that benefit. SSI does not come from payroll with holdings.

    SSDI is bases on the FICA taxes that you or are relative in certain cases have paid into the system. If you have SSDI you benefits will not be cut off due to income.

    in order to quality for SSDI benefits on your own record you must have been working for part if the previous ten years.

    If you are receiving SSDI when you get to you full retirement age the acronym changes from SSDI to SSR.
    the payment amount does not decrease.

    yes congress needs to revise the laws so only people born in the United States are eligible to receive SSI payment. Don’t come to the USA for a handout.

  2. tammy

    Social security has an extremely Liberal, politically correct agenda based definition of disability which DOESN’T include people who are physically disabled. For example, if a disabled woman marries an able bodied man (or another able bodied woman), they are miraculously cured of their physical disability and become in-eligible for any Social Security benefits. How’s that for equal and fair treatment?

    Ive had Cerebal Palsy since birth and now I am an adult (often called an adult- disabled child). The older I get, the worse my physical disability becomes. I applied for benefits under the “Adult disabled child” program (which should be called the “marriage hate program”) and was turned down because I got married. Isn’t that amazing how getting married somehow cured my disability. Thanks for nothing, Socialist Security administration, you have been absolutely no help to me whatsoever.

    P.S. I am 44 years old, I have been permanently and totally disabled since birth, I have cerebal palsy. I am unable to work, no one will hire me because of my disability. I can not find gainful employment and my hopes and dreams of ever having a normal job, have long since faded. Socialist Security has never been there for me, even when I needed them the most. Of course the occasional jobs I have had, the Socialist Security System was sure to grab their share of my paycheck, that they never forgot! Yes, I have paid into Social Security, Yes, I am permanently and totally disabled, no- attorneys could care less about me because my case is not a “handed to them on a silver platter” case and most of the attorneys I have run into just wanted a giveme case.

    also, I have NEVER received ONE RED CENT of disability money from the “anti marriage” Socialist Security System, EVER! Plan on hearing from me often, I will continue to speak out against the Socialist Security System for as long as I possibly can.

    Have a great day!

    • Collyn

      Have a great day?

      • tammy

        might as well be polite, seeing as how the Socialist Security system is not.

    • AJ

      Disabled adult child benefits mean that you getting benefits from a parent, you were disabled before age 22 and you are being supported by your parent. When you marry then your parent is no longer supporting you and that is why you lose the benefits from your parent’s record.

      • tammy

        So, unless I married a millionaire, now you have two people, living off only ONE income. How does this help at all?
        Disabled people have a VERY hard time finding any work at all, and no hope of finding a career (believe me- I have tried).

        How does getting married actually make me any less disabled? My parents never applied for social security benefits for me, even thought I was born with cerebal palsy. When I applied for benefits after I got married, I was denied because of the “able bodied” marriage rule- which is nothing short of discrimination.

        • Ray F.

          Thank you for your comments Tammy. We acknowledge your frustration and want to help. Under current law, we are able to pay disability benefits through two programs: the Social Security Disability Insurance program or SSDI and the Supplemental Security Income or SSI program. SSDI benefits are based on the individual’s earning from a job and his or her contributions to the Social Security program. A “Disabled Adult Child” can qualify for benefits under the SSDI program, if the mother or father is receiving Social Security benefits or is deceased. However, federal law requires that the “disabled adult child” must be unmarried, age 18 or older, and have a disability that started before age 22.
          The SSI program in the other hand is a needs based program that can also pay benefits to individuals that are disabled, age 65 or older and have limited income and resources. We must also take into consideration the income and resources available for the “disabled adult child” and this includes the income and resources of his or her spouse.

  3. R. T.

    Aren’t most people denied on their first attempt at getting SSDI? I can’t believe for the life of me of any person simply applying on line for SSDI and getting right away: the PR effort by SSA has to be commended.

  4. John D.

    Can a person who is 73 years old who is retired hasn’t worked in 10 years apply / receive disability payments ?

    • 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!

  5. MdVL

    My sister will be 61 end of this year and has received SSDI due to an injury for the past 6 yrs. She is also married, but has low income, can she be eligible for SSI as well?

    • Jenna Y.

      Yes, if your sister has low income and limited resources, she may be able to receive SSI benefits in addition to monthly Disability benefits. This is commonly referred to as “concurrent benefits.” To receive concurrent benefits, you must be approved for SSDI, but receive low monthly payments through the program.

      Remember that the Supplemental Security Income or SSI program is a needs based program that gives cash assistance to disabled individuals with limited income and resources. The amount of SSI benefits is based, in part, on the income and resources available to your sister. For SSI eligibility, we will take into consideration any incomeand resources available to your sister. If her regular disability and spousal benefit combined are lower than the regular monthly SSI payment (of $733), then she may still be eligible for SSI. She may contact her local Social Security office for questions related to her benefits.

    • Ray F.

      The SSI program is a needs based program that gives cash assistance to disabled individuals with limited income and resources. The amount of SSI benefits is based, in part, on the income and resources available to the individual. For SSI eligibility, we will also take into consideration any income and resources available to the spouse. Your sister can call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to speak to one of our representatives for further assistance. Generally, you’ll have a shorter wait time if you call later in the week. Thanks.

  6. richard l.

    Want COLA back VOTE DEMOCRAT simple

  7. Shay O.

    A lot of advantages of the LBL directed-sequencing strategy was described


  8. Kay E.

    Why does it take so long to get an evaluation? What are people supposed to do while you keep them waiting for years? Starve?

    • Jenna Y.

      Kay, we care about our customers and are working as fast as we can. The length of time it takes to receive a decision on a disability claim can vary depending on several factors; primarily, the nature of the disability, how quickly we obtain medical evidence from doctors or other medical sources, and if the claim is randomly selected for a quality assurance review of the decision. We use the same five-step process to make a decision on each application.

      In the mean time, you may be eligible to receive social services from the state in which you live. These services include free meals, housekeeping help, transportation, or help with other problems. To get information about services in your area and find out if you qualify, you will need to contact your state or local social services or welfare office.

      • Keith g.

        I live in Tennessee I had a bad car wreck in April2014 suffered a spinal burst from L1to T11 had a major back surgery to clean out all of the pieces of my spine then rod and screws to hold my spine together and my body weight up I was transferred to shepherd center in Atlanta Georgia to learn how to live with a wheelchair they filed my disability for me I wasn’t suppose to ever walk again I was paralyzed for 2 months but with God’s help I finally got were I can stand up and can walk now I still can’t feel my legs from my knees to my waist my bladder doesn’t work my bowels don’t work but I been denied 2 times now and said I would get a hearing in 18 months I can’t get state help since I been denied for disability am on my last leg have no money no food no nothing but they say there board for decisions know there job but they have no medical Drs or anyone with a medical degree making decisions on your life and they could careless if you die waiting on them that’s what they want you can Google my injury and it’s easy to read nobody walks from my injury the Dr doesn’t know how am able to walk slow and weak can’t feel my butt or midsection my Drs have made notes on my medical records I can’t work but there decision board knows better I use a catheter to piss I use a box of rubber gloves to clean poop out of my bowel cavity with my fingers if you think that is easy then try it without the proper bathroom medical equipment because I can’t afford it my medicine is around a thousand a month which I have no money to get it’s been over 2yrs and been denied twice now there giving 18 months to die before I see a judge it’s nothing but a government joke when your really are crippled but I know people on disability for anxiety and a single skipped disc and they have motorcycles and canoes and paddle boards and in there 30syears old there injury is nothing like mine and they didn’t wait even 2 yrs my spine is exploded just like dynamite exploded in my spine there’s no way they looked at my condition and medical reports and denied me twice and now tell me it could be 18 months before I see a judge wish they would explain to me how and what am suppose to live on its total b’s wish the entire board and to put rubber gloves on and lube up there fingers and try to clean there bowels cavity out twice a day on a regular toilet instead of the proper chair twist around for about a hr and try and run your fingers up far enough to clean it out with rods and screws in your spine it’s nothing except a phoetic joke if you have any suggestions feel free to call me 423 260 8125 and explain the boards way of turning you down twice do they not research your injury or Drs comments they hope you die and don’t have to pay you anything there trained robots and yes I am very upset about the government decision process then tell me on the phone that me not having food to eat and money to pay for medicine or food wasn’t there problem then who’s is it then

        • yourenotfoolinanyone

          It sounds like you are really suffering and I hope your case gets approved soon. Hang in there.

      • Joyce S.

        is 35,000.00 in michigan poor enough?? Jenna ? thats two 52 yr olds income per yr together

  9. Betsy W.

    How stupid are your agents on the main number? For a YEAR when I need to call I’ve been telling them my address is changed. Funnily enough they got it the first time for my DI. They STILL have not changed it for my SSI. What, like I’d live in two different places, even if the towns are only a mile and a half apart?

    I changed my bank info. I TOLD them it was for the DI and the SSI. They changed it for the DI. Guess what? Not for the SSI. Seriously? Yes, I kept the old account open just in case, but what if I had moved out of state rather than across town? Ye gods! I call the SSI office, they can see both, they tell me they can. Is it sheer laziness that keeps them from entering it into both, or is it stupidity? Now I have to call again tomorrow to straighten this out. Again. I have to waste hours of my life waiting on callbacks from you guys because your agents can’t fill in paperwork properly the FIRST time? Oh, and BTW? That address change? I didn’t just call and give it, I wrote a flippin letter to the Harrison, AR office, and THEY didn’t change it either! ARG!

    • John O.

      You can’t just call and change your SSI mailing address like you can with social security. SSI is also based upon your living arrangements. Go in to the local office for an interview.

    • Just m.

      This is prime example where online account with as is great, you have control over changes. You can sign on and take care of it.

  10. W K.

    My/Daughter has Multiple Sclerosis (MS), uses a walker and has been turned down twice. She has an attorney and is awaiting a court date. Both denials used the same language obviously from a computer. There is no way she could do her job and stopped working early this year.

Comments are closed.