Qualifying for Social Security Disability

Social Security benefits are available for qualifying U.S. residents who are disabled and are not able to work and support themselves. There is social security disability insurance (SSDI or SSD), and supplemental security income (SSI). Many people may be eligible to receive both at the same time.

Do You Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?
Simply put, you are eligible to receive social security disability benefits if you have a severe disability that keeps you from working at your job or at a similar job for at least twelve months, have not yet retired, AND you earn less than the monthly Substantial Gainful Amount (SGA) per month. Currently in Massachusetts, the SGA is $1,000. You must apply and be approved for disability benefits.

Minor, partial, and temporary, short-term injuries will not be approved for benefits. You can check the SSA’s list of disabling conditions to see if your condition is included.

How does the U.S. Social Security Administration determine if you are eligible for social security disability? The SSA follows five steps to make this decision.

  • Are you working in 2010? If you are, are you earning more than $1,000 each month? If you answer no to each of these questions, you may be eligible.
  • Is your condition severe and does it interfere with basic work activities? If you answer yes, you may be eligible.
  • Is your condition on the disabling conditions list or is it of equal severity? If you answer yes, you may be eligible.
  • Are you unable to continue working because of your condition? If you answer yes, you may be eligible.
  • Are you unable to work in a similar job or use skills from your previous job to continue working because of your condition? If you answer yes, you may be eligible.

What is the difference between SSDI and SSI?
SSI (Supplemental Security Income) is a monthly benefit generally available to people 65 years or older who are blind and/or disabled and are not working or have not worked long enough to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD). Recipients must also be U.S. citizens and live in the United States. Eligibility for SSI depends on need, taking into account both your income and the amount and value of your resources (bank accounts and property, for example). Available benefits may decrease if you have significant resources that add up to more than $2,000 or a working spouse who can support you.

SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance, also called “Disability”) is available if you became disabled while or after you were working. The amount you receive depends on how much you earned and the amount of Social Security taxes you paid while you were working. It does not depend on your available resources or additional income. These monthly payments are intended to replace the money you would have earned if you were earning a regular wage.

Contact us if you have questions about qualifying for either Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income.