Are Social Security Disability Benefits Worth It? Here's Everything You Need To Know

Submitted by Elizabeth on

Are you unable to work due to a physical impairment? If you worked in the past, you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) through the U.S. Social Security Administration. 

SSDI benefits can help you cover your basic financial needs if you’re unable to work and earn an income. That said, the process of applying for SSDI benefits is often complex. There’s also no guarantee you’ll qualify for benefits. 

Keep reading if you’re deciding whether applying for SSDI is worth it. The following information should help you better understand whether this is an option worth considering. 

The Application Process 

You may apply for SSDI benefits online, by calling 1-800-325-0778, or by visiting your local SSA office. According to the SSA, the process involves the following steps: 

The SSA states you will likely need to provide certain information about yourself when applying for benefits. Said information may include: 

  • Your birthdate
  • Place of birth
  • Social Security number
  • Names and birth dates of minor children
  • Bank account number and routing number, if you wish to receive benefits through electronic deposit 

You may also need to provide information about any current or former spouses. Specifically, you may need their names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers. 

In addition, the SSA will likely require you to provide certain information about your medical condition. Prepare by gathering such information as: 

  • Names and contact information of individuals familiar with your condition who may assist with your application
  • Contact information, identification information, and patient ID numbers related to any doctors you’ve seen or treatment you’ve received
  • Names and dates of medical tests you’ve undergone
  • Names of doctors who’ve ordered medical tests 

You also need to provide information about your work when applying for disability benefits. You may need such info as: 

  • How much money you earned this year and last
  • Name and address of this year’s employer and last year’s
  • A copy of the Social Security Statement
  • The beginning and end dates of your active U.S. military service if you served prior to 1968
  • A list of up to five jobs you had during the 15 years before you became unable to work 

You might also have to provide information about other benefits you’ve received, such as workers’ comp benefits. Gathering this information ahead of time will make the application process run much more smoothly. 


Average Benefits by State 

How much does disability pay? The average Social Security payment for individuals receiving SSDI can vary from one state to another. According to Kiplinger, the average annual SSDI payment in each state is as follows: 

  • Alabama: $16,006.68
  • Alaska: $16,182.96
  • Arizona: $16,973.40
  • Arkansas: $15,534.84
  • California: $16,751.16
  • Colorado: $16,496.88
  • Connecticut: $17,003.52
  • Delaware: $17,546.76
  • District of Columbia: $14,512.68
  • Florida: $16,699.08
  • Georgia: $16,335.12
  • Hawaii: $16,798.56
  • Idaho: $16,008.24
  • Illinois: $16,471.68
  • Indiana: $16,263.00
  • Iowa: $15,498.60
  • Kansas: $15,855.36
  • Kentucky: $15,865.92
  • Louisiana: $15,602.16
  • Maine: $15,299.76
  • Maryland: 16,959.72
  • Massachusetts: $16,401.00
  • Michigan: $16,617.24
  • Minnesota: $16,208.52
  • Mississippi: $15,571.92
  • Missouri: $15,831.36
  • Montana: $15,454.92
  • Nebraska: $15,295.56
  • Nevada: $17,160.48
  • New Hampshire: $16,810.56
  • New Jersey: $18,063.96
  • New Mexico: $15,366.48
  • New York: $16,885.80
  • North Carolina: $16,310.04
  • North Dakota: $15,231.60
  • Ohio: $15,644.28
  • Oklahoma: $16,638.16
  • Oregon: $$16,065.00
  • Pennsylvania: $16,391.04
  • Rhode Island: $16,062.84
  • South Carolina: $16,647.72
  • South Dakota: $15,185.64
  • Tennessee: $15,902.64
  • Texas: $$16.096.44
  • Utah: $16,214.64
  • Vermont: $15,355.56
  • Virginia: $16,453.80
  • Washington: $16,458.12
  • West Virginia: $16,136.40
  • Wisconsin: $16.082.52
  • Wyoming: $16,388.52

Be aware the above is based on 2022 data. An SSDI increase in 2023 can change the numbers. Additionally, you need to consider the cost of living when determining how far SSDI payments go. In some areas, a seemingly low SSDI average payment may not be a cause for concern if the cost of living in those areas is relatively low. 

Legal and Financial Considerations 

You may have good reasons to apply for disability. However, you might also wonder whether doing so is the best way to meet your financial needs. 

The process of showing you meet Social Security disability requirements may be time-consuming. Perhaps you can access benefits more easily through private disability insurance. 

You also have to consider your income. Per the SSA, a non-blind individual can earn a maximum of $1,550 per month to qualify for SSDI. You may thus decide SSDI isn’t worth it if you think you’ll be able to work and earn more than that amount sometime in the future. 

Every circumstance is unique. If you’re considering disability but aren’t yet sure it’s right for you, speak with a legal professional. They may answer your questions and assist with your application. 

Other Forms of Disability Insurance  

Qualifying for SSDI isn’t necessarily easy. You need to have a qualifying condition and show you’ve earned sufficient work credits to receive SSDI. Even if you technically meet the Social Security disability requirements for adults, the SSA may deny your initial claim. This could happen if you fail to provide sufficient medical evidence with your initial application. 

A private long-term disability policy is another option to consider. Often, qualifying for private disability is easier than qualifying for SSDI. Research this option to learn more about its pros and cons. 

Key Facts About SSDI 

It’s important to understand what SSDI truly is and how it works when applying. As you already know, you need to have worked in the past to qualify for SSDI benefits. 

The definition for an SSDI disability can also be fairly strict. To qualify for SSDI, your condition must: 

  • Last at least a year
  • Prevent you from returning to work you previously did
  • Prevent you from reasonably adjusting to a new form of work 

What conditions qualify for disability? The SSA’s Blue Book is a resource offering more information on this topic. Refer to it to find out if you have a disability that qualifies you for benefits. 

Factors Influencing the Decision 

It’s wise to account for various factors when deciding whether to apply for SSDI. Examples include: 

  • The severity of your impairment
  • How long your impairment is likely to last
  • Whether you have other forms of income
  • Whether you may access financial assistance through state programs or other such means 

Remember that you don’t need to make this decision alone. Consult with family and friends if you believe their insights would help you make the right choice. Again, an attorney can also review your case and explain whether you’re likely to qualify for benefits. 

Case Studies and Personal Experiences 

Do you know anyone who has applied for SSDI in the past or currently receives it? Consider speaking with them about their experiences if so. Discussing someone’s personal experiences applying for SSDI may help you better understand whether this option is right for you. 

Speak With an Attorney About SSDI Today 

You may not know if applying for SSDI is worth your time. Even if you do know you wish to apply for SSDI, you might need assistance gathering documentation showing you meet the SSA’s eligibility criteria. 

These are two reasons to discuss your case in greater detail with a lawyer. The case evaluation is free of charge. Working with a lawyer might also be free, as many disability lawyers receive pay directly through back pay. This is the pay for the period between when you developed your disability and when the SSA approved your claim. 

An attorney can explain your legal options and help with your application. If the SSA has already denied your application, an attorney may help with your appeal. Get started right now by taking the Free Case Evaluation on this page to get connected and speak with a disability lawyer who subscribes to the site and can help you today—all at zero cost to you. 

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