Understanding Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits


Social security disability insurance (SSDI or SSD) is a social program that pays you monthly benefits should you become disabled before retirement and are not able to work. It is a federally funded program provided by the US Social Security Administration (SSA). SSD pays disability to you and a particular family member.

The estimated average SSD benefit amount for a disabled employee getting SSDI in January 2019 is $1,234 every month, though a beneficiary can get either lower than this or higher to the tune of $2,861. Note that these benefits depend on average lifetime earnings as opposed to the severity of the disability or household income.


Not everyone qualifies for SSDI. To be eligible, you need to have worked in a job that’s covered by Social Security. You must also have a medical condition that meets the definition of disability according to Social Security. Generally, Social Security pays people who cannot work for 12 or more months because of disability. The benefits are on-going until one can resume work regularly. On top of that, a range of special rules, known as “work incentives” offer health coverage and on-going benefits to help patients transition smoothly back to work. When one receives SSD benefits when they attain full retirement age, his or her disability benefits become retirement benefits automatically, though the amount remains unaltered.

Work credits

The number of work credits a person requires to qualify for SSD benefits is based on how old he or she was when they became disabled. Social Security work credits depend on one’s total annual wages or income for the self-employed. One can earn up to four credit per year.

Medical eligibility

As mentioned earlier, a person’s medical condition has to meet Social Security’s definition of disability. SSA only pays for total disability and not short-term or partial disability. One is considered disable when:

  • He or she can’t perform work that they were able to do initially
  • Social Security decides that one cannot adapt to other work as a result of his or her medical condition
  • The disability has lasted or is expected to last for twelve or more months or result in death

Approval for disability benefits

Once the Social Security approves one for disability benefits, the person will not get SSD benefits until they’ve been disabled for five full months. If someone were confirmed immediately – like due to a medical emergency – he or she would still need to wait for five months for the checks to begin. Sometimes, the process might take longer, like between 6 to 12 months.

What happens if a claim is denied?

If the application for Social Security disability insurance is denied, a person can appeal the decision. In which case, he or she will need to request a review of the denial. This should be done within 60 days of receiving a denial letter. However, since this process is involving, and errors can lead to further denials, it might be advisable to employ the services of a Rockford SSD attorney for legal assistance and the best possible outcome.

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