Free Social Security Disability Programs (Updated for 2023)

The Social Security Administration functions as the principal agency of the United States federal government that administers Social Security, or more specifically, the federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program. The OASDI pays retirement, disability, and survivors’ benefits to qualifying individuals.

These Social Security programs are funded through payroll taxes known as the Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax (FICA). In terms of the total amount of benefits paid, the U.S. Social Security program represents the greatest expenditure in the federal budget and the largest world government program. It is estimated that the Social Security program prevents 40% of Americans age 65 or older from falling below the poverty line.

The two Social Security programs offered by the Social Security Administration to assist disabled people are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

About Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Social Security Disability Insurance, also known as SSDI or SSD, provides income to individuals no longer able to work because of a physically or psychologically restrictive disability. SSDI is funded by payroll taxes and does not depend on the recipient’s income level, as it is based solely on work history and the degree of disability.

To qualify for SSDI, it is usually required that the applicant has worked five of the past ten years in a job (or multiple jobs) where Social Security taxes were withheld. If an individual receives SSDI benefits upon reaching full retirement age, the SSDI payments automatically convert to retirement benefits. SSDI Qualification Criteria

About Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, offers monetary assistance to low-income individuals who are at least age 65, blind, and/or disabled. SSI pays cash benefits to supplement the cost of food, clothing, and shelter.

Unlike SSDI, the SSI program is funded by general tax revenues, not Social Security taxes. Thus, an individual may still qualify for SSI benefits even if the work history required for SSDI is lacking. It thereby serves as a viable option for low-income applicants without a solidified employment history. SSI Qualification Criteria

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Whether you are applying for SSDI or SSI benefits, the application process can prove long and complex for both Social Security programs. In fact, most initial applications for disability benefits are denied. For this reason, you should consider hiring an experienced Social Security attorney or disability advocate to assist with your claim. Most disability lawyers and advocates do not charge a fee unless a case is resolved successfully. Further, they ensure that all documentation is completed correctly, that the appropriate medical records are included in your file, and that you are properly represented in the event your case reaches the hearing stage.

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