Social Security Disability Insurance

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program pays benefits to adults who cannot work because of a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death.  Additionally, certain family members of disabled workers also can receive money from Social Security. 

View the program website

SSA field office representatives evaluate new claims to verify non-medical eligibility requirements.   The field office representatives then send the claims to the State Disability Determination Services (DDS). The state DDS evaluates medical and vocational factors and determines whether the applicant meets our disability criteria. Once approved, an individual receives monthly disability benefits. For those who have a disability and are low-income, these benefits are critical to help prevent homelessness. SSDI, along with Supplemental Security Income, comprise the two largest mainstream income assistance benefit programs provided by the federal government for individuals with a disability. Individuals may begin their application for SSDI and learn more about the process here

Eligible Beneficiaries 

In general, to get disability benefits, an individual must meet two different earnings tests:

  • A “recent work” test based on your age at the time you became disabled; and 
  • A “duration of work” test to show that you worked long enough under Social Security.

     *Certain blind workers have to meet only the “duration of work” test.

Funding Mechanism:

The SSDI program pays monthly benefits to eligible individuals as long as they continue to meet the disability guidelines.  Similar to the OASI program, benefits amounts are based on a worker’s prior payroll tax contributions and are financed by the Disability Insurance Trust Fund.