Disability

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. Shkeenna R.

    I Was Approved for SSDI and SSI back on mar 2021,, I received my awards letter for SSDI w/in a few weeks…

    Received my first monthly payment in May 2021~~

    I was contacted by a representative from SSA to conduct a review to determine if I was still eligible to continue to receive SSI….

    I WAS ALSO ADVISED THAT FOR MY BEST INTEREST TO RECEIVE MY BACKPAYMENT MORE QUICKLY ~ I SHOULD W/DRAW MY SSI CLAIM BECAUSE CONCURRENT AWARDS WOULD ONLY OFFSET EACH OTHER AND DELAY MY AWARD…… IF I W/DRAW THEN I SHOULD RECEIVE MY BACKPAYMENT W/IN THE SAME MONTH {MAY}>>>…
    I DID AS ALSO ADVISED BY MY LEGAL REP….

    NOW HERE IT IS SEP…. AND IVE YET TO RECEIVE MY SSDI AWARDED BACKPAYMENT THAT PER. “””” MANAGER TO MANAGER “””””
    ON MULTIPLE CONTACTS CONTINUOUSLY BEING TOLD TO JUST KEEP CHECKING MY CARD (( IT SHOULD BE ON THERE AT ANY TIME )…

    AS OF JULY 28TH WE WERE TOLD THAT IT WAS NOW PENDING OFFSET TOWARDS REPRESENTATIVE PAY….
    AND TO GIVE 7-10 BUSINESS DAYS….

    Reply
    • Vonda

      For your security, Shkeenna, 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 call 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.

      Reply
  2. Nagaraj S.

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    Reply
  3. Robert F.

    Can you draw off your ex-spouses disability (male or female) if you have been divorced for years? If so how old do you have to be to draw on it?

    Reply
  4. Jeff

    Hi,
    Is it true that once you start a SSDI application online, you must finish it and submit within a certain time otherwise the application will be cancelled/closed? If so and application is closed/cancelled can I start a new one? Is there any penalty or downside to letting an application “expire” and then re-start?
    Just ensuring I understand full process before starting.
    Thank you

    Reply
    • Patty

      Hi Jeff, thank you for using our blog to ask your question. A partially completed online application establishes a protective filing date in case you change your mind later. You are protected as of the date you first completed the initial information screens (e.g., Applicant Identification, Contact Information, and Birth and Citizenship Information) and selected the “Next” button. The next page that appears in the path is the “Re-entry Number” screen, which provides you with the 6-month protective filing language. If you do not file within the 6-months, you will have to start the application process over again.

      It is important that you apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled. Processing an application for disability benefits can take three to five months. If you need further assistance filing for disability, please contact your local Social Security office or our national toll free number at 1-800-772-1213. We hope this information was helpful.

      Reply
  5. Donna

    My husband has diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer and will qualify for disability. I am 67 and husband is 58. Will I be able to receive his disability check after he passes in lieu of my one social security retirement check (which is much smaller than his disability check will be)?

    Reply
    • Patty

      Hi Donna. We are sorry to hear about your husband’s medical condition. Typically, a widow or widower at full (survivors) retirement age or older generally receives 100% of the deceased worker’s amount.

      We are only going to pay the highest benefit amount from either record, meaning you don’t get both retirement and widow(er)s benefits but the higher of the two. For more information about how much your benefit would be, visit our If You Are The Survivor web page. We hope this information is helpful.

      Reply
      • Melissa G.

        My question is. I am married but have not seen my husband since 2004.
        I don’t know his ss#. I was told he passed away. How can I find out so I can collect survivor benefits

        Reply
        • Vonda

          Hi Melissa, thanks for reaching out. 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.

          Reply
  6. Karl I.

    How can anyone (me) personally contact a SS rep to see if I am qualified and I believe so since I was diagnosed back in 1995 with emphysema, have plantar fasciitis and tinnitis but there ZERO way to discuss this with anyone and have been trying but live outside the USA and cannot walk into an office. ZERO email contact. Can someone help?

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi Karl, thanks for using our blog. We recommend that individuals living outside the United States contact the nearest Federal Benefit Unit in the area for any assistance related to Social Security programs and benefits. Also, our Office of International Operations home page provides more information to assist our customers living abroad.

      Reply
  7. Justin

    I have both a question and concern. We recently have police involvement into our concern. My family member receives Social Security. Our neighbor is one that basically if you are not in a wheelchair or can go outside your home, you are not disabled. He takes constant videos when we are outside our home, including putting a camera on our property, letting air out of car tire , put a cheap GPS tracker (police found), had his child break into our home (witness), and is under investigation for pulling our mail out of mailbox. Our police opened an investigation as they questioned how does he know all our personal information. I am taking he has been questioned, as two nights ago he basically verbally assaulted me to the point police were dispatched for threats and irrational behavior. He saying my family member is cheating the system, needs to get a job, he is tired of paying for others to not working. By the way my family member has a form on cancer with little time left. The neighbor said worry I will file another fraud charge. Ironically his name was in the paper for Snap and Medicaid fraud. How can we get more assistance in regards to this behavior? My family is terrified to go outside they home, fear of being in our home, fear for our safety and live a peaceful life? We never knew receiving a benefit came with a hefty price. Is there a point the harassment can be investigated as a federal offense? Not to be political, he has Trump signs all around his property. He posts about violence and threats towards those who dont fit the characteristics who that he feels everyone should have, including Gov benefits.

    Reply
  8. Pedro S.

    I work in a ranch for 17.5 years it has change owners 3 times about 7 months I lost the front of right foot 2nd boss sold ranch about 2 months ago I had to go to hospital due to getting infection on right foot when I got out went to talk to them to left them know on my recovery they decided to fire me they ask me to sign a confidential separation agreement of 6 months and for me not to bother them again .what can I due to see if I can qualify for benefits

    Reply
    • Patty

      Hi Pedro. We are sorry to hear about your situation. We pay disability benefits through two programs: the Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have worked long enough and recently enough in jobs covered by Social Security (usually within the last 10 years). The SSI program is a needs based program that gives cash assistance to disabled individuals with limited income and resources. We pay disability benefits to people who are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last one year or more or to end in death. If you think you may be eligible to receive disability benefits and would like to apply, you can use our online application.

      If you are unable or would rather not apply online, 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.

      Reply
  9. Penni

    If fraud is suspected, what should one one do, please? Thank you

    Reply
  10. Dana R.

    I have Parkinson’s and can no longer work due to severe tremors to my dominant side. I do not have the work credits required to apply for SSI & my husband makes too much for us to receive SSDI. Do I have any options? I am only 56 years old.

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi Dana, thanks for using our blog. We are sorry to hear about your disability. We pay disability benefits through two programs: the Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have worked long enough and recently enough in jobs covered by Social Security (usually within the last 10 years). The (SSI) program is a needs based program that gives cash assistance to disabled individuals with limited income and resources. We pay disability benefits to people who are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last one year or more or to end in death. If you think you may be eligible to receive disability benefits and would like to apply, you can use our online application.

      If you are unable or would rather not apply online, 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.

      Reply

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