Helpful Facts About Social Security Disability Benefits

July 22, 2021 • By

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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Deputy Associate Commissioner, Office of Strategic and Digital Communications


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  1. Kathy

    According to everything I’ve read online and have been told by Mrs. Jones at the Shreveport, LA my husband is an ideal candidate for approval he is 53, he has a 7th grade education he started working fulltime at 12 years old, he has paid in all he is supposed to and then sum and he has a long list of issues including significant hearing loss and amputations. Mrs. Jones told me that when deciding on a claim hearing and vision are taken very seriously, that is obviously not true as my husband was denied. What guidelines do ssdi actually follow when deciding a case bcuz everything i have read and been told is not the guidelines followed?

  2. Theresa

    not sure if my mom can apply for disability social security she was hit head on by drunken driver who had no insurance or drivers license she was in hospital for a month and now in skilled nursing facility she may not walk again her hip was shattered in multiple places she is 75. also there are other injuries to much to list

    • Patty

      Hi Theresa. We are sorry to hear about your mom. If your mom is receiving Social Security retirement benefits and has reached her full retirement age, she would not be eligible for disability benefits. The law does not allow a person to receive both retirement and disability benefits on one earnings record at the same time. Therefore, she would remain on her retirement benefit. We hope this helps!

  3. Faith Morse

    I think a lot of people on Disability benefits are not aware that they can qualify for SNAP EBT benefits. I think the confusion is about income eligibility but SNAP rules are very accomodating to those on disability. In addition, states like California actually proactively encourage Disability beneficiaries to apply for SNAP.


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