Helpful Facts About Social Security Disability Benefits

July 22, 2021 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: July 21, 2021

People together going down the sidewalk talkingWhen the unexpected happens and you can no longer work due to a serious medical condition, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits can be a lifeline for you and your family.

Most American workers contribute to Social Security through federal payroll taxes. If your working years are cut short by a severe and lasting illness or injury, our SSDI provides monthly financial assistance.

Six facts you should know about our SSDI program

  1. SSDI is coverage that workers earn. If you paid enough Social Security taxes through your lifetime earnings, our SSDI provides support by replacing some of your income if you’re disabled and unable to work.
  2. The Social Security Act—the law governing SSDI—has a strict definition of disability. We consider you disabled if you can’t work due to a serious medical condition that has lasted, or is expected to last, at least one year or result in death. We do not offer temporary or partial disability benefits.
  3. Disability can happen to anyone at any age. Serious medical conditions, such as cancer and mental illness, can affect the young and elderly alike. One in four 20-year-olds will become disabled before retirement age. As a result, they may need to rely on Social Security disability benefits for income support.
  4. SSDI payments help disabled workers to meet their basic needs. The average monthly Social Security disability benefit is $1,280, as of April 2021, which allows disabled workers who can no longer work meet their basic needs.
  5. Social Security works aggressively to prevent, detect, and help prosecute fraud. Our agency is committed to protecting your investment. Along with our Office of the Inspector General, we take a zero tolerance approach to fraud. The result is a fraud incidence rate that is a fraction of one percent.
  6. Social Security helps people return to work without losing benefits. Often, people would like to re-enter the workforce. However, many worry they’ll lose disability benefits if they try working, or if they’re unsuccessful in returning to work. We connect them to free employment support services and help them maintain benefits, such as health care. Learn about our Ticket to Work program on our website.

We’re with you through life’s journey, paying disability benefits to almost 10 million disabled workers and their spouses and children. Learn more about our disability insurance program today.

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About the Author

Dawn Bystry, Acting Associate Commissioner, Office of Strategic and Digital Communications

Deputy Associate Commissioner, Office of Strategic and Digital Communications


  1. Amy C.

    If I was just approved for disability in 2022 and the date I became disabled was 3/2020, when will I begin receiving benefits and Medicare?

    • Vonda

      Hi Amy, thanks for using our blog. You’ll receive a letter in the mail with our decision. Social Security disability benefits will not begin until the sixth full month of disability. The Social Security disability waiting period begins with the first full month after the date we decide your disability began.

      You can log in to or create a my Social Security account to check the status of your application online.

      If you are unable to check your status online, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

    • Deborah D.

      If you are approved for SSDI and under 65 yrs; you have to wait a full 24 months (2 yrs) before being eligible for Medicare. Depending on your income and specific situation, you may be eligible for Medicaid. But, the Medicare is 2 yrs. You become covered automatically on the 25 month. Also, keep in mind that once you do get coverage through Medicare, the premium is deducted from your monthly benefit.

  2. Bonnie P.

    Need a proof of income of my disability letter so I can print out

    • Vonda

      Hi Bonnie, thanks for using our blog. Check out our Frequently Asked Questions web page for details on how to get a benefit verification letter. This letter is sometimes called a budget letter, a benefits letter, a proof of income letter or a proof of award letter. You also may be able to request a benefit verification letter by using our automated telephone service at 1-800-772-1213. You can conduct the automated services 24 hours a day. At the prompt, indicate that you’re requesting a proof of income letter. We hope this helps.

  3. Craig

    How long do I have to wait to get Medicare after I’ve been approved for SSDI?

    • Vonda

      Hi Craig, thank you for your question. You are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and B if you’ve been entitled to Social Security disability benefits for 24 months. An information packet will arrive in the mail a few months before you become eligible. For more information, check out the Medicare brochure. We hope this is helpful.

  4. John

    Thanks for the info but How can I contact someone for these policies.

  5. Delsie T.

    After the judge finds one totally disabled, how long is it before one receives their disability check and their medicare card.

    • Vonda

      For your security, Delsie, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We ask that members in our Blog community work with our offices with specific questions. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or you can contact your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information.  Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

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