Understanding Social Security Disability Benefits

two women, one of them in a wheelchair, using a laptop and talking
Aug 25, 2021 | Sara Khaki

Disability is more common than people realize. In fact, a working 20-something-year-old has a one in four chance of becoming disabled before reaching full retirement age. This is why the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers disability benefits.

The SSA provides monthly compensation to disabled individuals through two programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). These programs have distinct eligibility criteria that applicants must meet to receive either type of benefit, and most initial applications are denied by the SSA, often necessitating the assistance of a local disability attorney.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

To qualify for SSDI, you must meet a very strict definition of disability. SSDI is only available for individuals who can no longer work because of a medical condition that has lasted or is expected to last at least one year or result in death. Vocational experts will likely be asked to weigh in on whether you are able to perform any kind of gainful employment, not just your old job duties.

Additionally, individuals looking to receive SSDI benefits must have worked long enough (and recently enough) to qualify. The SSDI program is funded through payroll taxes, meaning you must have worked and contributed to the program for a certain number of years in the form of Social Security income taxes. Your employment history before the onset of your disability is measured in work credits, and it is possible to receive up to four work credits per fiscal year. Some qualified dependents of a disabled worker may receive benefits without having worked.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Unlike SSDI, SSI benefits are not awarded based on a person’s work history. Instead, the SSI program provides benefits to disabled or blind individuals with low income and limited resources. If you suffer from a disabling condition or blindness and struggle to make ends meet, you may qualify for SSI benefits.

Ask an Attorney which Social Security Disability Program is Right for You

SSDI and SSI both offer monthly benefits to disabled individuals, but their requirements differ greatly. It is important to know which programs you qualify for so you can get the best result possible for you and your family. Contact the Khaki Law Firm today for advice on applying to either disability program or for assistance with filing an appeal.


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