Disability Benefits: Protection against the Unexpected

August 29, 2016 • By

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Last Updated: August 29, 2016

young man in a wheelchair writing a letterDisability is unpredictable and can happen to any person, at any age. Millions of Americans live with disabilities that are the result of a sudden traumatic event or onset of a serious medical condition.

Social Security disability benefits protect you against the unexpected. When you know about the services we provide, you’ll make better decisions when life throws you a curve.

Our disability program provides financial support to disabled individuals and their families in times of need. If you think you have a qualifying disability, don’t wait, apply right away.

Social Security pays disability benefits to people with a severe medical condition expected to last at least one year or result in death. This condition must prevent you from performing substantial work. Social Security does not give benefits to people with partial disability or short-term disability, like veteran’s benefits and workers’ compensation do. You must also meet the earnings requirement for disability benefits.

When you apply for disability, we will need medical and other information from you. We can help you get this information together. You can also have a representative help you gather and submit this information. This representative may be an attorney or other qualified person.

You can get more information about applying for our disability programs at our website. If you click on “Apply for Benefits,” you can then follow a link to get a Disability Starter Kit. This kit will help you get ready for your disability interview or online application.

Once you have your information together, you can apply for disability benefits online. Knowing this information can help you make the best decision for you and your family, if life throws the unexpected at you.

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About the Author

Jim Borland, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Jim Borland, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications


  1. Kim f.

    Hello I need to know how this works if someone is on ssi and the other person is on ssdi and u decide to get married does the person with ssi lose their benefits

  2. anne i.

    My husband is disabled and getting social security. Am I eligible for benefits? I am 62 years old

  3. Kim

    If my fiance is collecting disability thru a work injury, I am working. When we get married does he loose his disability benefits?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Kim. If you and your fiance’ receive retirement or Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits, your marriage will not affect his benefit. If you or your fiance’ are receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), widow or widower’s benefits, your marriage may affect his benefit. For specific questions about his account, he can call our toll free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Generally, he’ll have a shorter wait time if he calls later in the day. He may also find more information about how marriage effects benefits by visiting our Frequently Asked Questions. We hope this helps!

  4. Ghie L.

    Hi, can i ask question?
    Is thier additional benifits if retired person become bed ridden?

    • Vonda V.

      Thank you for your question, Ghie. If a person has reached his or her full retirement age (Currently 66) and is receiving Social Security retirement, they are no longer eligible for disability benefits. If a person is under their full retirement age and they become disabled, they may be able to file for disability benefits.

      To inquire on filing for disability, you may:
      •Call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. or contact your local Social Security office.

  5. kristina p.

    why i didnt get my ssi check

  6. Vital K.

    Great blog here! Also your web site lots up very fast!
    What host are you the use of? Can I am getting your associate link in your host?
    I wish my site loaded up as fast as yours lol. https://vitalketo.net/

  7. Vital K.

    Great blog here! Also your web site lots up very fast! What host are you the use
    of? Can I am getting your associate link in your host?
    I wish my site loaded up as fast as yours lol. https://vitalketo.net/

  8. James Y.

    How do I add my name on my wife’s SSI disability so I can speak on her behalf?

    • Ray F.

      Hello James. If your wife has trouble managing her Social Security benefits or trouble communicating with us, you may be interested in applying to become your wife’s Representative Payee.
      A face-to-face interview is required and you must apply for and be appointed as a representative payee by SSA. If approved to serve as your wife’s representative payee, it will make it easier for you in the future to update account information for her.
      It would be helpful to obtain a statement from her doctor. The statement should say that your wife is not able -mentally or physically- to take care of herself and that you are the person responsible to keep her finances in order.
      We understand how inconvenient this may be for you, but we hope you understand our role in protecting everyone’s personal information.
      Please read our publication: A Guide For Representative Payees. If you have specific questions, or to make an appointment, please call 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. to speak to one of our representatives. Or you can contact your local Social Security office directly.
      We hope this information helps!

  9. Sherry G.

    Wow, I had no idea that social security disability benefits had such interesting caveats to it, like severe medical conditions expected to last at least one year or end in death. My father recently got very sick and the diagnosis isn’t good for his current and future quality of life, so we’ve been considering getting a social security attorney to help him get benefits to ease some of the financial burdens. Thank you for the information about how he needs to meet the long-term and permanent disability requirements as well as the earnings requirement. Good to know. http://www.800lawmich.com/ssd-social-security-disability

  10. Rita W.

    I’m almost 64 and I have been drawing my SS since 2/2018. I had medical insurance through my husbands employment but is being layoff for medical reasons. Liver Transplant. Can I apply for my Medicare?

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