Disability, SSI

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

March 30, 2017 • By

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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. John s.

    How stupid is it for ssi to even suggest for a unbiased decision .when they send you to see a doctor who does not know you or has ever treated you. He was never sent my va. Medical records. Does not the government even trust themselves. No wonder this great nation is falling apart. Just like its ok for someone from another person that is not a citizen. Never paid into ssi. Still get benefits. When a person that is a us citizen that has worked 44years and has paid ssi every paycheck. And you people are so rude. You must be democrat. To want this county to be destroyed like you want it

  2. Lourdes G.

    trying to come in to an office. I’m disabled and have a few questions. I’ve been on the phone for several days, on holds for hours at a time and no one come on the phone.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Lourdes. We’re sorry that you had difficulty reaching someone by phone. We may have been experiencing higher than normal call volume. If you still need assistance, you can click “Get Help” in your personal my Social Security account to “Ask a Question”. Click “Talk to an Expert” for a call back. Thanks!

  3. Tom F.

    I have a friend who receives, Social Security for a disability just going to result death soon. Social security has requested that she appear in an office for an evaluation it’s almost impossible to get her there and I’ve told them so they have no compassion for that situation I can’t believe that they can’t send someone to her. So the net result is if she doesn’t up here in the Social Security I guess you would call inspection office for a medical condition the benefits she needs to live that doesn’t sit well with me and I can’t believe that the demands are that’s trench it for someone who’s prognosis is death

  4. Joseph L.

    I am on SSD and have read that my SSD will become regular SS benifit at my full retirement age at 66 , will I be notified of the change ?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Joseph. Once a person reaches their full retirement age, we automatically convert their disability benefits to retirement benefits, but the amount remains the same. The individual will receive a written notice of the change. If you have specific questions regarding your benefits, you can also call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Representatives are available Monday through Friday between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Generally, you’ll have a shorter wait time if you call later in the day. We hope this helps!

  5. Brenda D.

    I applied for disability benefits in September 2018, is there any way to find out the status?

  6. Heather M.

    I collect SSDI and was wondering if you can collect SSI I have rapid cycling bipolar disorder and a panic disorder as well as a broken back and neck from a car accident. I have tried to work on many occasions as I am college educated and I last 2 months or less and my bipolar is so bad I have to get a medication review. Now that I was hurt in a car accident my back won’t take it but the bipolar does not allow me to concentrate, take orders etc. I am a former law enforcement. I was just wondering as it is hard to meet your bills on SSDI since I am now divorced Can I get SSI and SSDI at the same time. I am also on Georgia Help with Medicare. Thank you for your help Heather Grace bearsampeanut@gmail.com

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Heather, thank you for using our blog to ask your question. If have low income and limited resources, you may be able to receive SSI benefits in addition to monthly Disability benefits. This is commonly referred to as “concurrent benefits.” To receive concurrent benefits, you must be approved for SSDI, but receive low monthly payments through the program.

      Remember that the Supplemental Security Income or SSI program is a needs based program that gives cash assistance to disabled individuals with limited income and resources. The amount of SSI benefits is based, in part, on your income and resources. For SSI eligibility, we will take into consideration any income and resources made available to you. If your SSDI is lower than the SSI Federal benefit rate ($750 in 2018), then you may be eligible for SSI. To inquire about additional benefits, please call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

  7. Debbie

    If I receive SSDI benefits and need to move to another state to be closer to family will it affect my benefit amount?

  8. Lillian K.

    Hello. I have been waiting for over a year for disability help. I do have a lawyer but they claim that there is little that they can do and that we are on hold with the disability department until they have time to take us to court. Is there anything that I can do to make the disability department understand that I have been out of work for over a year. I am depleting my savings to the point that if I get called for a kidney transplant I may not be able to pay for medications and living expenses during my recovery. My stress level is high for obvious reasons. Please advice.

    • Ray F.

      Hello Lillian. The length of time it takes to get a hearing can vary from state to state. We attempt to resolve all claims promptly, but there may be delays due to the volume of pending appeals in your area.
      Please continue working with your attorney and local hearing office on specific questions about your case.
      While waiting for a hearing, you may want to check to see if you are eligible to receive social services from the state in which you live. These services include Medicaid, transportation or help with other problems. You can get information about services in your area from your state or local social services or welfare office. Or you can visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) web page for more information. Thanks.

  9. Nancy R.

    I have received disability benefits for approx 4 years. I worked very hard for 45 years. I am now 64. So I am now on Medicare instead of Medicaid. So am I on my retirement benefit or still on disability benefit till I’m 65.

  10. Ronald G.

    I’m trying to find how to increase my withholding from my monthly check!

    • Ray F.

      Hello Ronald. If you are already receiving benefits or if you want to change or stop your withholding, you’ll need a Form W-4V from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). See our “Benefits Planner | Withholding Income Tax From Your Social Security Benefits” for more information. Thanks!

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