Myths and Facts About Social Security’s Disability Program

November 4, 2016 • By

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Last Updated: November 4, 2016

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Jim Borland, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Jim Borland, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications


  1. Kelli c.

    I am receiving social security disability for a compassion rare disease. I’ll be 59 later this year. Can I draw SSD benefits based on my ex-husbands salary? We were married for 19 years. I have not remarried. (he has) Financially, I need the additional income to meet my increasing medical needs. Thank you

    • Vonda

      Thanks for your question, Kelli. If you are divorced, you can receive benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record (even if they have remarried) if:

      – Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer.
      – You’re unmarried.
      – You’re age 62 or older.
      – The benefit that you’re entitled to receive based on your own work is less than the benefit you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work.
      – Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

      Check out our Benefits For Your Divorced Spouse web page for more information. We hope this helps!

  2. Talia

    Hi, so I would like to know if I’m allowed to save for large purchases such as a car or house down payment

    • Vonda

      Thank you for your question, Talia. If you’re receiving Supplemental Security Income benefits, a change in your income, assets and living arrangement can affect your benefits and it must be reported. You can call your local Social Security office. 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.

  3. Timothy R.

    I’m receiving SSI and want to change over to SSD for work
    reasons, I’m 65 year old. How do I do that?

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Timothy, thanks for using our blog. When it comes to qualifying for disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Income, or SSDI program, individuals must have worked long enough–and recently enough–under Social Security to qualify for disability benefits. Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which you have to earn within the last 10 years before you become disabled.

      If you have specific questions about your situation, 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.

  4. kejadian a.

  5. Susan P.

    I am refinancing my home and the underwriter is asking for me to provide three-year continuance proof. How do I get that?

  6. JeromeF. T.

    My son who is on SSI wants to change his responsible payer from myself to his mother and have his check sent to a different bank. how do we legally do this. without there being a break in his eligibility.

  7. greetingaglobal

    I have been checking out many of your posts and it’s nice stuff. I will definitely bookmark your website.

  8. Tori O.

    Is there an area on your site that I can find a form to submit on your website or do I have to pick one up @ one of the Social Security offices?
    Thank you in advance for your assistance.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Tori. If you are referring to filing for disability benefits, you can find more information and how to apply here. We hope this helps.

  9. Carol D.

    After a car left me with compound leg fractures at 60,I started to receive private LTD, and SSD. My LTD benefits were depleted.
    Will I get what I used to received from the LTD back from SS?
    Your help is greatly appreciated.
    Thank you

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Carol, thank you for using our blog. Unfortunately, and because of security reasons, we do not have access to personal records in this blog and cannot assist you.

      It is important to report that information and to inquire about your benefits. To do this, contact your local office or call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

  10. Jordan E.

    If you are SSD an making 940 from social security how much more can one earn in a month and still receive SSD an is it acceptable to work 20 hours a week and the earning 10.50 an hour

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Jordan, thank you for your question. Social Security has special rules that make it possible for people with disabilities receiving Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to work and still receive monthly payments. These are called work incentives.

      For SSDI beneficiaries, there is a Trial Work Period (TWP) and then an Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE). The TWP allows you to test your ability to work for at least 9 months. During this period, you will receive your full disability benefit regardless of how much you earn as long as your work activity is reported and you continue to have a disabling impairment. In 2018, any month in which earnings exceed $850 is considered a month of the 9-month trial work period.

      Once you’ve completed your TWP, you get a 36-month safety net called the EPE. During the EPE, you get benefits for all months your earnings or work activities are below the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level as long as you continue to have a disabling impairment. Social Security will suspend cash benefits for months earnings are over SGA and start benefits again if earnings fall below the SGA level. In 2018, you are earning SGA if your earnings, after any allowable deductions, are more than $1,180 in a month.

      See Social Security’s Red Book for descriptions of the many work incentives.

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