What Is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

If you’ve worked for several years and paid Social Security taxes (FICA) or self-employment taxes (SECA), and you become disabled, you might qualify for disability insurance benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA). Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a payroll-tax-funded insurance program that provides income to workers who become disabled and can no longer work.

SSDI benefits are only available to workers whom Social Security considers totally disabled. SSDI doesn’t provide benefits to workers who are partially disabled or those with short-term disabilities. Social Security assumes that people have other financial resources to help them through periods of short-term disability, such as family, workers’ compensation, private insurance, or savings.

With the help of a Social Security Lawyer you can find out if you qualify for SSDI benefits. Pre-qualify in 60 seconds for up to $3,822 per month and 12 months of back pay. Please answer a few questions to help us determine your eligibility.

What SSDI Benefits Can You Get?

SSDI is a cash benefit paid to eligible disabled workers and their families. If you’re eligible for SSDI benefits, your monthly benefit amount will be based on your past earnings. Your SSDI monthly benefit amount can range from $100 to $3,822 (in 2024). Most SSDI recipients receive between $800 and $1,800 per month, with the average individual disability benefit at $1,537 per month.

Although SSDI isn’t an income-based program, the amount of your disability benefit can be reduced if you’re also collecting workers’ compensation or temporary state disability. However, receiving private disability insurance payments, veterans’ benefits, or SSI (Supplemental Security Income) won’t reduce your SSDI benefit amount.

If you qualify for SSDI, in addition to receiving monthly cash benefits, you can get healthcare benefits through Medicare (after two years). SSDI benefits might also be available for your spouse and other dependents. Learn more about getting SSDI benefits for your family.

Eligibility for Social Security Disability

To qualify for the SSDI program, you must have worked a certain number of years in jobs where you paid Social Security taxes and you must be disabled. Specifically, to qualify for SSDI benefits, you need to have earned a certain number of work credits and have a medical condition that now keeps you from working.

How Many Social Security Work Credits Do You Need?

In 2024, you earn one work credit for every $1,730 you earn each year. Only earnings you paid Social Security taxes on count toward the total. You can earn up to four work credits per year. The number of work credits you need to qualify for SSDI benefits depends on how old you were when you became disabled.

Let’s say you were 50 years old when you became disabled. In that case, you’d need 28 work credits, or to have worked for seven years to qualify for SSDI benefits. (And you’d have to have worked at least five of those years within the last 10 years). Learn more about the legal and financial requirements for SSDI.

If you haven’t worked long enough when you become disabled, and have low income and assets, you can apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) instead.

Medical Eligibility for SSDI Benefits

Once Social Security has determined that you have enough work credits, the agency will then check to see if you qualify medically for disability. To qualify for SSDI benefits with the help of Puerto Rico Disability, you must have a medical condition that meets Social Security’s definition of disability.

To qualify medically for SSDI benefits, your disability must be:

  • Severe: Your condition must significantly interfere with basic work-related activities like standing, walking, lifting, or remembering.
  • Long-term: Your condition has lasted or is expected to last at least one year or until death.
  • Total: You aren’t able to perform “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) for at least one year.

You might be able to get SSDI even if you’re still working, but not if you’re earning more than the SGA limit ($1,550 per month in 2024 for disabled applicants, $2,590 for blind applicants). If Social Security finds that you’re performing “SGA,” you won’t be considered disabled enough to qualify for SSDI benefits.

How Social Security Decides If You Have a Qualifying Disability

The SSA defines disability differently than other government programs or private insurance programs. There are only two ways to meet Social Security’s definition of disabled:

  • Meet the requirements of an official medical listing: The Social Security Blue Book (formally titled “Disability Evaluation Under Social Security”) is a listing of impairments that the SSA considers severe enough to keep you from working. Each medical listing lays out the medical criteria you must meet to automatically qualify for disability benefits.
  • Prove that your disability prevents you from doing any kind of full-time work: Social Security will first check your medical records to see if your condition meets the requirements of a listing or “equals a listing.” If it does, the SSA will consider you disabled, and you’ll qualify for benefits. If not, you might still qualify for SSDI benefits.

Meeting a Medical Listing

Social Security will first check your medical records to see if your condition meets the requirements of a listing or “equals a listing.” If it does, the SSA will consider you disabled and you’ll qualify for benefits. If not, you might still qualify for SSDI benefits.

Determine Your Eligibility

To find out if you qualify for SSDI benefits, start by pre-qualifying in just 60 seconds. This process can determine if you are eligible for up to $3,822 per month and 12 months of back pay. By answering a few simple questions, you’ll get a better understanding of your eligibility for SSDI benefits.

Christopher Stern

Christopher Stern is a Washington-based reporter. Chris spent many years covering tech policy as a business reporter for renowned publications. He has extensive experience covering Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commissions. He is a graduate of Middlebury College. Email:[email protected]

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