Patient Library

A Consumerís Guide to:
SSDI Benefits



What are SSDI Benefits?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program run by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that provides insurance to covered individuals who become disabled and as a result, are unable to work for a year or more. Generally, benefits continue until the individual can go to work again regularly.

Who Can Get SSDI Benefits?
Unlike SSI, SSDI generally has no income, asset, or immigration status requirements. Instead, benefits are paid to individuals who meet the following criteria.

  1. They have worked in jobs covered by Social Security and now have a medical condition that meets SSAís definition of disability (the same definition used for SSI), which requires individuals to prove they have medical problems so serious that they arenít able to work.
  2. They meet the SSDI work requirements and have paid premiums through their FICA payroll deductions, making them insured and able to collect benefits;
  3. The wage earner is insured as are his or her dependents - they can also be beneficiaries.
  4. Upon turning 65, SSDI benefits automatically turn into retirement benefits and are paid at the same amount.

What are the SSDI work requirements?

In general, to receive SSDI an individual must have worked for 5 of the last 10 years before becoming disabled.
More specifically, SSA counts work credits based on the total yearly wages an individual earns. They count up to four credits each year and individuals need a total of 20 work credits within the last 40 quarters to qualify.
In addition to considering the time an individual has worked, SSA will also look at how much theyíve earned in determining their total work credits. In 2005, for example, individuals earn one credit for each $920 of wages or self-employment income. So, when someoneís earned $3,680 in a year, they've earned their four credits for that year.
Younger workers may qualify for SSDI benefits with fewer work credits.

How much will I Receive in SSDI Benefits?
The amount of money an individual receives in SSDI benefits is based directly on how much FICA tax he or she has paid through their pay checks. In 2003, the average SSDI monthly benefit amount was $862.

How do I Apply for SSDI Benefits?
Applications for SSDI can be done:
1) Online at www.ssa.gov; 2) Over the phone by calling 800-772-1213; or 3) At your local SSA office.

TIP: For more information on meeting the SSDI disability definition, see the TAP Patient Library materials entitled, A Consumerís Guide to: SSI benefits.

Questions? Contact Health & Disability Advocates, 312-223-9600 or www.hdadvocates.org


Page Last Updated May 23, 2022