Social Security Benefits
The Social Security Administration (SSA) encourages people to apply directly online or to make an appointment to file by phone as soon as the person becomes disabled.
A person who has a severe physical or mental disability that has lasted, or is expected to last, for at least one year or more or result in death may apply if they also are limited in their ability to work and earn countable income of more than $1,470 a month or more than $2,460 if blind. Unlike some organizations or government programs, SSA does not pay benefits for partial disability or for short term disability of less than 12 months.
There are two programs under which SSA pays a monthly benefit based on a disability:
The first, Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI) paid to: (1) adults (called wage earners) who are ages 18 up to full retirement age (ranges from 65-67) and have worked long enough and recently enough and paid Social Security taxes; and (2) to a wage earner’s eligible dependent children (called Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB)) age 18 and over whose disability began before age 22; or to (3) a surviving disabled widow/widower (DWB) who is ages 50-60 and meets certain technical rules of eligibility.
The second program, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits are paid to children and adults who have limited income and limited resources. The parent’s income and resources (savings) are considered for children under age 18. After age 18 the parent’s income and resources (savings) are no longer considered.
- If the SSI applicant has more than $2,000 in countable resources, they may want to consider opening an ABLE account for depositing cash resources. ABLE savings up to $100,000 are not counted as a resource for SSI.
If you have questions about which benefit you may qualify for, you may want to telephone SSA before filing or starting the process at (800) 772-1213.
There are several ways that you can apply for benefits or start the process:
- Apply Online for Disability Benefits to file the SSDI application. At this time, you cannot file for benefits as a Childhood Disability Beneficiary (CDB) or Disabled Widow Benefits (DWB)online; or
- Schedule an appointment at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
- In all cases, complete the Adult Disability Report online in advance. This will speed up the process.
- You can get started but you cannot file the SSI application online. The link will allow you to set up your appointment to file online instead of calling the office; or
- Schedule an appointment at 1-800-772-1213 to apply for SSI disability benefits. SSA will decide if you can come into the office to file or whether you can file by phone interview. There are in-office restrictions due to COVID. If someone is deaf or hard of hearing, they may call the toll-free TTY number 1-800-325-0778 to review their options.
Learn what you need when applying for Disability Benefits including information about yourself, about your disability condition, doctor contact information and any employment information for the last two years. Once you have applied, you can check the status of your application online or you can appeal the decision if you are denied benefits, within 60 days of getting a denial letter.
To help you get ready for your disability interview or online application, review the Disability Starter Kit. There is a kit for adults and a kit for children.
If you don’t have enough Social Security credits to qualify for benefits on your own record, you may be able to receive benefits on your spouse’s record. To qualify for spouse’s benefits, you must be one of the following: Either 62 years of age or older, or any age and have in your care a child younger than age 16, or who has a disability and is entitled to receive benefits on your spouse’s record.
You can return to work while receiving Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration has special rules that allow you to work without jeopardizing your benefits.
If you don’t agree with a decision the Social Security Administration made, you have opportunities to appeal their decision. The process starts by asking them to reconsider their decision, and if denied again then you can continue through the process by requesting a hearing with a judge and further actions.
Do not ignore an overpayment notice. If you do nothing, SSA will start to collect the overpayment from your benefits.
Use this tool if you have received an overpayment notice. It is aimed at benefits planners who are helping clients with overpayment notices but you can also follow these directions on your own, or with a planner.