What is Social Security Disability Insurance?

If you are a worker that becomes disabled and are unable to work before you are able to retire then you may benefit from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

This type of insurance can provide monthly benefits to qualifying individuals.

Individuals that get help from this program need to meet certain eligibility criteria.

If eligible, the program will determine the recipient’s benefits based on how much they have earned in the past.

Once the amount of benefits is determined, the benefits will then be sent to the recipient and eligible family members.

Understanding Social Security Disability Insurance

SSDI is a program that provides benefits to you (and eligible family members) if you have met specific requirements.

This program should not be confused with Supplemental Security Income (SSI)!

SSI is a program that will pay benefits to those that deal with financial hardship and limited resources (who also meet other eligibility criteria).

These programs often get confused because the medical requirements are the same between them.

Generally, you can understand SSDI as a program for workers to earn coverage benefits.

They can earn these benefits by working and paying Social Security taxes on their income. Workers can then receive these benefits when they can no longer work due to a disability.

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability Insurance?

People have the option to apply online, over the phone, or in person.

Regardless of the method you choose, you can expect the process to be like this:

  • First, you will need to get together important information and documentation for your application. A good guide to use is the Adult Disability Checklist. This checklist will show you some important information you should have ready.
  • Secondly, you should review the application to ensure that you meet at least some of the basic requirements to receive disability benefits.
  • Thirdly, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will check to see if you have a qualifying work history and check your current work activities.
  • After that, the SSA will process your application. They will forward your case file to the Disability Determination Services office for your state.
  • Finally, that state agency will determine whether or not you can receive benefits.

What Happens After You Submit Your Application?

Once you have applied, you may be contacted by the SSA if they need more information or have other questions.

If you want to check the status of your application you can do so online or over the phone!

You will want to keep an eye out for the response in the mail that shows whether or not you are eligible to receive benefits.

If you don’t agree with the decision that you received in the mail, it’s okay!

Luckily, you have the right to appeal the decision they make.

There are rules around an appeal that you must follow like submitting an appeal request in writing within 60 days of receiving the decision.

What Information Will You Need?

Like we said earlier, you can confirm the information you need to provide with the Adult Disability Checklist.

However, you can assume that you will need to provide details like:

  • Personal Information
  • Medical Information
  • Work Information

How Much Can You Receive in Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits?

Not everyone will receive the same amount of benefits from this program.

That’s because the benefits are calculated using a formula.

The formula looks at your earnings from before your disability.

On average, people can expect 1,537 a month.

However, the maximum benefit for 2024 is $3,822 a month.

What are Common Disabilities That SSDI Recipients Have?

The SSA has a list of medical impairments known as the blue book.

This book highlights medical conditions that may be able to automatically qualify you for SSDI or SSI (so long as other qualifying criteria is met).

Some of these conditions include:

  • Anxiety
  • Autism
  • Back conditions
  • Blood disorders
  • Cardiovascular conditions
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Chronic heart failure
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Depression
  • Digestive tract issues
  • Dysfunction of the bones
  • Dysfunction of the joints
  • Epilepsy
  • Hearing loss
  • Hemophilia
  • Immune system disorders
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Lupus
  • Mental disorders
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Musculoskeletal problems
  • Neurological disorders
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sensory issues
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Speech Issues
  • Vision loss

How to Understand the Difference Between SSDI and SSI?

It can be confusing to review your benefit options and see SSDI compared to SSI.

That is why it is important to make sure you have a good understanding between these two different programs.

First let’s start off with SSDI (since that’s what we have been talking about)!

SSDI is a program that can help people who are disabled and have an eligible work history.

Their work history can either come through their own employment or a certain family member like a parent or spouse.

On the other hand there is SSI.

SSI will give the minimum amount of financial assistance to eligible individuals with a limited-income like older adults and those of any age with a qualifying disability.

You can basically understand the difference between these two programs like this:

  • SSI is based on age, disability, and finances.
  • SSDI is based on disability and work history.

While very similar, they are still two completely different assistance options.

In fact, it is possible for a person to receive both SSI and SSDI at the same time!

What Other Benefits May be Able to Help?

If you are already receiving SSDI there may be other programs that can help.

There are a variety of different assistance options that may be able to aid your situation like:

  • Medicare
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)


Health insurance costs can be pricey.

While normally Medicare is a health insurance program for those over 65 years old, SSDI recipients may be eligible.

If a person receives SSDI benefits for at least two years they may qualify for Medicare (even if they are not traditionally old enough for Medicare coverage).

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Food is a necessary part of life.

A person cannot survive without food which is why groceries are so important.

However, handling the cost of groceries can be hard, especially if you are dealing with a disability.

That is why SNAP may be able to help.

This program provides eligible recipients funds on an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card.

This card can be used towards the cost of groceries at stores that accept them as a form of payment!

The amount of benefits that a person can receive varies but some help is better than no help.

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

Another bill that plenty of Americans deal with is utilities.

However, this expense can be costly too! That is why LIHEAP was created.

LIHEAP can provide families assistance with energy bills, energy costs, energy crises, energy-related minor home repairs, and weatherization of the home.


SSDI is a great option for those who need help.

While this program may not be able to help everyone, it can definitely help plenty of Americans in need.

SSDI is a program that can help workers who are disabled get monthly benefits to help supplement their income while unable to work.

This program shouldn’t get confused with SSI.

The best way to understand the difference between these to programs is by looking at the fact that:

  • SSI is based on age, disability, and finances.
  • SSDI is based on disability and work history.

Besides SSDI, there are programs that may be able to help you as well.

It can be hard dealing with a disability, especially before you retire.

That is why it is important to look at all assistance options that may be able to help.

Luckily these applications are free so you can begin the process whenever you are ready!