Disability comes at different stages of life, and often when the victim least expects it. Experts believe that Americans in their 20s have about a 30% chance of suffering a disabling condition that would keep them from work for at least three months.

The percentage makes the risk of getting disabled high, and despite the latter, several people have little or no knowledge of what it means to have social security disability benefits. This complete guide aims to change that by providing in-depth first-hand knowledge of what the term means, the benefits, and the requirements for getting one.

What is Social Security Disability Benefits?

Social security disability benefits are monthly monetary allocations given to people who can no longer work because of a disability as supplementary income. It is an insurance payroll funded by the federal insurance program of the United States.

The Social Security Administration manages the social security disability benefits, and it is divided into two essential programs:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI); and
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

While both programs have the word “Disabled,” in common, they have some fundamental differences as they are for two different classes of people. The funding and qualifying requirements differ, and we’ll discuss them next in detail.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

An SSDI is a safety net program that provides insurance for sick or injured workers. The difference between this program and the ordinary insurance policies is the insured does not need to pay premiums. The insured pays Social Security tax from each paycheck, and a portion goes into the SSDI funding.

To qualify for the Social Security Disability Insurance, you must meet the following requirements:


1. Sufficient Number of Work Credits


Work credits get accrued by earnings and payment of Social Security taxes. The number of work credits required to qualify for SSDI depends on the age you became disabled. As a general rule, you can qualify if you earned at least 20 credits ten years before becoming disabled. If you don’t have sufficient work credits, there’s a possibility you’ll be able to qualify based on a spouse or parent’s work record.

2. You Can Not Engage in Substantial Gainful Activity

Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) under this head covers earning at least a certain amount of income from your work. Earnings from other sources don’t count. The SGA level changes periodically, and you need to consult one of our SSDI attorneys to help you know the level that applies to you.

3. The Definition of Disabled Must Apply to You

Some long-term conditions fall under the SSA definition of disabled, and you must have one of them. The cause of your disability is not vital, be it an accident or illness; what’s important is that you meet the definition.

4. You Must be Unable to Do the Work You’re Qualified For

To qualify, you must have become unable to do the work you were qualified for when you became disabled, and every other job matching your skillset. The SSA will look at transferable skills to determine if you can do something despite your disability.

Supplemental Security Income

SSI is not dependent on past wages but a fixed amount based on the federal benefit rate. The monthly income under this head is lower than that of SSDI and varies from time to time. You can consult one of our SSI disability attorneys to discover the current monthly maximum.

To qualify for SSI, you must meet the following requirements:

  1. You must be from 65 years, be legally blind, and meet the SSA’s disability definition.
  2. You must have limited income and no source of gainful employment.
  3. Your asset must be limited and below $2,000 for singles or $3,000 for couples.

What Amounts to Disability?

As mentioned earlier, to receive payments for either SSDI or SSI, you must meet the SSA disabled definition. It means that your condition must:

  • Have lasted a year, be expected to last a year, or result in your death.
  • Significantly reduce your ability to do simple activities necessary for your work, like walking, sitting, standing, retaining, or remembering information.
  • Be listed on the SSA impairment list or have the medical equivalent.
  • Prevent you from doing any work for which you qualify.

Get Answers to Your SSDI and SSI Questions at Tabak Law 

At Tabak Law, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, we have a team of Social Security Law Attorneys to answer your questions and set you on the path of getting your Social Security Disability benefits. We have over 45 years of experience helping injured plaintiffs get disability claims approved. Contact us to arrange a free case review.

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