Disability, SSI

There’s Plenty You Should Know About Social Security Disability Benefits!

March 30, 2017 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: March 17, 2021

woman in wheelchair in library Life is unpredictable. When something interrupts your plans, it’s good to know there’s a way to supplement your income, in case of an unexpected life event.

Social Security has a strict definition of disability based on your inability to work and provide for yourself and your family. Disability benefits are available only to people with impairments so severe that they prevent any kind of significant, profitable work. Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or for short-term disability.

We pay disability via two programs: the Social Security Disability Insurance program, for people who have worked and paid Social Security taxes long enough to be eligible, and the Supplemental Security Income program, which pays benefits based on financial need.

When you apply for either program, we will collect medical and other information from you. Our disability examiners will make a decision about whether or not you can do work that you did before, adjust to other work because of your medical condition, and if your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or is likely to result in death.

Certain factors may speed or delay the decision in your case, like the nature of your disability and how quickly we can get your medical records. We may also need to send you for an additional medical examination at no cost to you.

If you would like to apply for disability benefits, you can use our online application. It has several advantages, including immediately starting the process, no waiting to get an appointment, and no trip to a Social Security Office. It’s easy, convenient, and secure.

You can find out everything there is to know about disability benefits online.

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About the Author

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications


  1. Kevin M.

    Will turn 65 in July 2021. Have retired but work a part time job. How much can I earn in that part time job and still receive Social Security at 65?

    • Vonda

      Hi Kevin, thanks for using our blog. You can get Social Security retirement or survivors benefits and work at the same time. However, there is a limit to how much you can earn and still receive full benefits. The amount you’re allowed to earn while receiving benefits depends on your age. If you attain full retirement age in 2021, the earnings limit is $50,520 but we only count earnings before the month you reach full retirement age. Beginning with the month you reach full retirement age, earnings no longer reduce your benefits, no matter how much you earn. If you’re under full retirement age for the entire year, then we deduct $1 from benefit payments for every $2 earned above the annual limit. For 2021, that limit is $18,960.

      Visit our Receiving Benefits While Working web page for more details.

  2. Henry

    What is a explanation letter

  3. Cynthia K.

    I have a friend that will recieve an ininheritance from his mothers estate. Will he loose his social security disability!

    • Sue

      Cynthia, thank you for reading our blog and for your question. An inheritance does not affect or reduce Social Security disability, retirement, or survivors benefits. However, if your friend is receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), an inheritance is considered unearned income and must be reported to us. Your friend will find the phone number, fax number, and address for his local Social Security Office using the Office Locator. To learn more about SSI and how income affects payments, check out our What You Need to Know When You Get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) pamphlet.

  4. Suzanne H.

    I currently receive SSDI and 64 years old turning 65 January 2021. My husband recently passed away and I will now receive his PERA (Colorado’s Public Employees Retirement Association) benefits. Will this affect my SSDI benefits?

    • Sue

      We are sorry for your loss, Suzanne. Thank you for reading our blog and for your question. Even if your deceased husband’s pension is based on work that was not covered by Social Security, it will not affect your Social Security disability benefit. If you had earned the pension based on your own work, your SSDI may have been reduced due to the Windfall Elimination Provision, the Government Pension Offset, or both. We hope this information is helpful.

  5. karenunderwood@att.net

    if i am on Social security disability can i collect on my ex husbands ss if we were married 10 years? if so how do i find out if i am getting his or mine. We were married when i applied. if not can i get his now?

    • Vonda

      Hello Karen, thank you for your questions.

      You can receive benefits on your ex-spouse’s record if:
      • You are age 62 or older;
      • You were legally married to your ex-spouse for at least 10 years;
      • You are unmarried;
      • Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits and,
      • The benefit you are entitled to receive based on your own work is less than the benefit you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work.

      Check out our Retirement Planner: If You Are Divorced for additional details.

  6. Xavian H.

    i need june july august sep 4 lastest monthly statements for 2020

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Xavian, thanks for using our blog. The best way to check and maintain your benefits is in your personal my Social Security account. If you do not already have an account, you can create one. Once you are logged in to your account, select the “Benefit and Payment Details” tab. You can view and print your monthly payment amount, your payment schedule and your next payment date. If you are unable to create a my Social Security account or do not want to request it 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.

  7. Charles F.

    I have tried to get disability for 6 years denied paid all my credits. All this. Time they sent me a letter saying after i reached 66 full retirement age. I no longer qualified i have been wrongly treated by ssd never seen thire Dr’s or had the right to a court hearing cant work in debt just bearly getting by thanks ssd

  8. Annette P.

    I worked hard all my life i had to settle for SSI instead of my social secialty ehy please

  9. Joaquin T.

    I need for w4v

    • Vonda V.

      Thank you for your question, Joaquin. You can download the form or call the IRS toll-free at 1-800-829-3676 and ask for Form W-4V. When you complete the form, you can choose to have 7, 10, 12, or 22 percent of your monthly benefit withheld for taxes. See our Benefits Planner: Withholding Income Tax From Your Social Security Benefits for more information.

      • Ann E.

        But Can you collect from a spouses record when they turn 62. Also will it effect their SS when they retire years later?

  10. Sharon C.

    If you are receiving SSDI, does it change to SS when you reach retirement age? if so, are you considered retired at age 62 or 65?

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Sharon, thanks for using our blog. Social Security disability benefits automatically change to retirement benefits when disability beneficiaries become full retirement age. The law does not allow a person to receive both retirement and disability benefits on one earnings record at the same time.

Comments are closed.