Disability, SSI

Things to Think About Before Applying for Disability Benefits  

June 11, 2020 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: November 2, 2023

Contemplating man with artificial limb using laptop while sitting on bench in citySocial Security is with you throughout life’s journey. We provide vital financial support to tens of millions of American workers, primarily through retirement benefits. But we’re also there for you if the unexpected happens and a serious medical condition stops you from working to support yourself and your family.

Disability benefits replace a portion of your income

If you become seriously disabled, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits that replace a portion of your lost income. Here are the three key factors we use to determine if you may qualify for disability benefits:

  1. You must have a lasting medical condition so severe that it prevents you from doing the work that you did in the past or adjusting to other types of work.
  2. Your physical or mental impairment(s) must have lasted or be expected to last at least a year or result in death.
  3. You must have worked long enough — and recently enough — in jobs covered by Social Security.

What you should know about earning credits

You become eligible for Social Security benefits by working and paying Federal Insurance Contribution Act taxes, which translate into Social Security “credits.” A person can earn up to four credits a year. How old you are when you become disabled determines the number of credits you need to receive disability benefits.

For example, if you become disabled at age 31 or older, you generally must have earned at least 20 credits in the 10 years immediately before you became disabled. Twenty credits are equal to five years of substantial earnings. Younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.

Please log in to or create your personal my Social Security account to see how many credits you have earned and to estimate future benefits. Visit our Social Security Credits webpage to learn more about credits.

What if I don’t have enough credits

Those who have not worked enough to qualify for Social Security benefits may be eligible for help through our Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. SSI provides monthly payments to adults and children with a disability or blindness, as well as older people, who have little or no income or resources. Unlike Social Security disability benefits, SSI is funded with general tax revenue, not through Social Security taxes. Learn more on our SSI webpage.

Social Security helps you and millions of other Americans secure today and tomorrow by providing important financial benefits, information, and planning tools. Learn more by visiting our website. Please share this information with your family and friends – and post it on social media.

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About the Author

Darlynda Bogle, Assistant Deputy Commissioner

Darlynda Bogle, Assistant Deputy Commissioner


  1. Mar

    I’m 64 and recently applied for SSDI. I’ve been collecting my SS for 14 months. Does SSDI end when you turn 65? Thank you

    • A


    • Vonda V.

      Hi Mar, 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. We hope this helps!

  2. nzinga s.

    good Morning my name is nzinga shango Are we going to get the 2nd check stimulus check

  3. Curtis B.

    Hello my name is Curtis Boykin I was denied disability two times this is my third time applying I just had my second neck surgery and by working 2019 made my condition worse I have no feelings in my hands I can’t turn my neck all the way and I walk with no balance I have severe nerve damage that requires medication daily I can’t hold stuff I can’t take a proper shower I constantly drop things that I’m holding in my hand numbness chronic pain very uncomfortable to sleep walk a distance I need help bag I really need this disability cuz my health is failing me I don’t know if I’ll probably have another neck surgery and I’m trying to prevent that I currently have a hearing schedule for July 8th my surgeon has stated that by working last year made my condition worse I’m 55 years old and what’s the condition that I currently have I don’t know maybe another 10 years I might live I am in desperate need of help I have a lawyer and I pray things work out thank you for your time and allow me to voice my concerns I moved from New York to Alabama what support for my family and better medical attention I have my second neck surgery February 14th I am also schedule for lower back surgery as well I have looked Riley’s in my hip and herniated disc in my lower back trying to stay positive sometimes it’s just a mental breakdown I sit in my bed I just cry sometimes I used to be in top-notch shape basketball baseball football I can’t even run I walking no balance I can’t even save my own life thank you for your time and patience Curtis Boykin tennis 1665 Alabama Jefferson County

  4. onlinehefaz


  5. Robyn

    I’m so very sorry you’re going through all of this. It’s so easy for me to say to hang in there, but that’s all I have. From the bottom of my heart I send love, hugs and warm healing light ?

  6. Miguel A.

    It is totally unacceptable to have to wait 3 years for a hearing for disablity hearing. Something needs to be done I filed in june of 2018 and still waiting. In the meantime my home was foreclosed my credit ruined my entire life has changed had to leave my state a relocate to try and survive all of my savings are gone. I am a US Army veteran and a public servant first responder for almost 25 years for NYC. I have been paying into social security since I was 16 year’s old this isn’t a handout it’s something I paid into all my life to help me in my time of need I have overwhelming medical documentation and treatments from various doctors. I am now 61 years old and will be eligible for regular social security in 11 months will I be called for my hearing before then I am depressed and at my wits end don’t know what else to do.

    • tony

      The SSA investigate some of those NYC first responders for fraud. They claimed PTSD after 9/11 to get NYC disability pension and then tried to scam the SSA using a determine for NYC to support their SSDI claim.

      The NYC disability pension is a fraud of a disability that cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. They can still work SGA as a first responder anywhere in the United States except for NYC.

      Those on the regular pension plan receive full benefits after 25 years and now they want to collect full early retirement by collecting SSDI.

      Then you have Veterans doing the same thing the VA disability. They scam the VA with the PTSD to collect both their VA disability and pension plans. They double their pension benefits.

      The 100% VA Permanent & Total disability is a fraud of a disability too. They can also work SGA and collect 100%VA P&T disability.

      Only the 100% VA Individual Unemployability doesn’t allow the Veteran to work SGA. If they work SGA, then they lose their 100% VA Individual Unemployability.

      Veterans don’t get paid anything in service, so they work a few years at a high paying private job so they can collect more SSDI. All the low earning would be eliminated by the remaining 35 years on disability till their full retirement age.

      With so many veterans and first responders unemployed, retired, and disabled but could perform SGA, the SSA, VA, and NYC will see a lot of fraudsters trying to collect disability.

      • darci a.

        You are obviously someone who has never had physical or emotional trauma. That’s great. But dont comment on others. You dont know their situation. I have been denied for disability, just the meager SSI $750 a month (bc I was a full time mother of 3 that doesn’t count as “work”) since 2012. College degree, was married 15 years, sick with Lyme for 12 years before properly diagnosed. My entire body is broken. Including my NECK. I have been technically homeless since 2013, denied over and over, while my ex has earned over a million dollars, of which I have no access to. My son killed himself over this situation. I have been completely abandoned by my family and the govt, bc they claim “chronic lyme” isnt real. Well, its real enough to traumatize ME for life.
        Whoever is getting away with the fraud, I wish they would tell me how to get approved for that whopping $750 a month, so at least I could rent a room in someone else’s house!
        You are Ignorant and should keep your uninformed comments to yourself!

    • Vonda V.

      Hello Miguel. We thank you for your service. The length of time it takes to process a claim or 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 cases in your area. Some individuals may be eligible to receive additional assistance from the state where they live; while they wait for a final determination on their disability claim. These services include Medicaid, free meals, housekeeping help, transportation or help with other problems.

      You can get information about services in your area from your state or local social services office. You can also visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services web page for more information. Thanks.

  7. Vivianne p.

    I am vivianne Paul Octave I had applied for disability because I injured my back in mile carpotanel syndrome in heart problems and I still get dinied and I have prove to all those that is going on with

  8. Brian B.

    I will kill myself I’m in 100 percent more pain after neck surgery January 31 2019 now I need a second neck surgery because the first one did not fix the problem I also need back shoulder and knee replacement I’m 59 years old I need help please

    • CYNTHIA K.

      Sir im sur when you left that comment the first.line first sentance plz do not write or say that. Ppl take ppl seriously im sure ssa was not .

      • tony

        So when people say they will kill themselves, the U.S. taxpayers should open their wallet and pay them over $1000/month for the rest of their life.

        Saying you are going to kill yourself is a get out of work free card.

        At least do what the other disability fraudsters do and check yourself into an emergency room. If you can’t pay the medical bills, then Medicaid will reimburse the hospital. Taxpayers will have to pay for that too.

        • Keile M.

          Tony, I assume you don’t know that Social Security Disability, SSI, and SS retirement are paid by the recipient and their employers? So essentially today’s workforce is funding those receiving benefits, then we’ll retire and the younger generation will be funding us. The problem is that the system was based on a much earlier life expectancy, right now the unemployment rate is insane, and without employers and employees paying into the SSA, they will eventuall run out of money. You didn’t clarify if you have personally examined the gentleman that you are accusing of being a fraud, or what medical school you attended? I hope you never have to experience constant pain because after a while it really affects your mental and emotional health. I was at a red light and a drunk driver hit me from behind. I am recovering from my 1st surgery and have to continue with different specialists because no one in their right mind would consider brain injuries, torn rotator cuff, and spinal injuries living the good life. And maybe you haven’t considered the fact that many people need to collect through recovery so they can get back to living. That would include working, socializing, etc. If you found yourself in a situation similar to many people who sustained serious injuries or illnesses I’m sure you would be applying as well. It’s very ignorant to assume everyone is just looking to get out of working & you didn’t educate yourself on the way the program is funded before being rude and uninformed. No one is going into your wallet so you’re good. I wouldn’t be so quick to judge who needs the program and who’s a fraud. You never know what life brings. It would be terrible if you had to suffer and have a random person tell you that you were a fraud. I can’t believe how miserable people are to one another. I don’t know where you’re getting your information from, but you sound like a horrendous person saying that responders on 911 are being investigated for faking PTSD? I bet you weren’t pulling people out of the towers. And when a public servant retires because of illness or injury, it’s their pension. Disability pension isn’t even a program that exists. You have nothing better to do than read people’s posts that I’m sure aren’t all frauds and bust balls? Go educate yourself. Be productive so you can open your wallet for the fakes…smh

          • Lynne K.

            Tony – if I could work full-time and be free like before, it would make me so happy. Unfortunately things don’t always work out as we wish. I have learned that unless I have walked in someone’s shoes- I have absolutely NO right to judge.

          • darci a.


  9. Francis F.

    I’ve had been on dis SSI for 10 years and i only receive 1,046 and hardly can make ends meet if i could get the extra money i can get a chance to live a better life and get out of the rat holes I’ve been living in Thank You

  10. David S.

    I worked for a company for 16 years and had to give it up cause couldn’t deal with the walking on concrete 12 hrs a night.
    I was out of work for 2 years before I applied for my ssd. I went through a company called Beard and Beard, out of Chicago Illinois. This was in September 2018, that I contacted them, I had already been off work almost 2 years. By March of 2019 I received my full disability, plus back pay. 6 months and all I had to do was be checked by their dr. and head dr.
    I would highly recommend them, cost me 10% of my back pay, which was definitely worth it…

    • Curtis B.

      That is beautiful God bless you and good luck

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