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Disability Benefits

Disability benefits are insurance benefits paid to an insured individual in case of disability. Social Security disability benefits include two separate programs:

Some disabled individuals are able to qualify for both programs while others only receive benefits through one or the other.

SSI is a “need-based” disability benefit paid to any qualified disabled individual. There are no age limits or work history requirements for eligibility, but there are strict income and financial asset limitations. In other words, those that qualify for disability benefits under SSI have limited income and other financial assets available to pay for their everyday needs.

SSDI is a benefit paid to qualified disabled workers and in some cases to their dependents or survivors. For a disabled worker to receive SSDI he or she must have a sufficient work history and have paid into the SSDI fund through Social Security taxes, which are part of self-employment and FICA taxes.

In addition to SSI and SSDI, the Social Security Administration also pays disability benefits to disabled children, disabled adult children, and disabled widows or widowers of insured workers. When individuals qualify under the work history of another person, their benefits may be referred to using different terms, including:

The term “disability benefits” can also sometimes refer to benefits paid to disabled individuals through various other insurance programs, including short or long-term employer sponsored or privately purchased disability plans and state disability coverage for workers, among others.

When some individuals discuss disability benefits, they may also be referring to other forms of benefits for which SSI and/or SSDI recipients may qualify, including Medicaid or Medicare.