Everything You Need to Know about Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

(DailyVibe.com) – While you may have heard of Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI, you’ve probably also heard that it’s difficult to get, the application process is complex, and not everyone succeeds. To get started with the SSDI process, you need to be armed with basic information before beginning. Here’s what you need to know.

History of the SSDI Program

SSDI started in 1956, and saw 150,000 enrollments in the first year as payments were then only given to those 50 and older. Over time, the government loosened requirements, making it easier for a broader complement of individuals to receive it, and when the working population grew, so did the number of people needing disability payments.

In 2016, disability benefits payouts totaled $11.3 billion with over 10 million Americans qualifying for payments with an average of $1,358 monthly on average.

The SSDI Program Now: Basic Qualifications

Did you know that only 48% of first-time disability claimants get SSDI? This is often due to incomplete information about the claimant or their disability or incorrect info on their paperwork. Because of this staggering statistic and the complexity of the paperwork, many claimants hire a lawyer or consultant to help them fill out their application properly. If possible, speaking with a consultant or lawyer is highly recommended before you attempt your SSDI application.

What Is SSDI?

SSDI is a social safety net. It’s a program that helps workers financially if they become injured or ill and can no longer work. It doesn’t require a payment of extra premiums to insurance. Instead, this comes out of your taxes. If you have a pay stub from when you were working or can check out a family member’s, you’ll notice a line deduction to pay for SSDI. This is how the program is funded.

You can apply for SSDI if you have a “qualifying disability.” The payments, should you qualify, come to you until you recover from the disability (not the case for most people) or until you reach retirement age when you collect different benefits.


SSI is based on specific income limits, but SSDI is based on job credits. Job credits are relative to your age to determine eligibility, but you need a certain amount to qualify.

With SSI, you have to be of retirement age and your income must meet the income guidelines set by the Social Security Administration (SSA). If you are on SSI you qualify for Medicaid automatically in most states, but if you have SSDI, it takes two years before Medicare eligibility kicks in for you.

How Do You Qualify for SSDI?

If you retain a consultant to help you apply for SSDI benefits, they will need the following information. Make sure you gather the appropriate documents.

  • You must have work credits: You get work credits by hitting income and Social Security tax requirements. You get one credit for each $1,510 of income, and are limited to four per year. This increases yearly as wages increase. If you lose your job or change jobs, you’ve still earned the work credits — they do not go away. Work credits are based upon when (what age) you become incapacitated. Generally, if you have 20 credits or more in ten years before you’re unable to work, you stand a chance of qualifying for SSDI.
  • You must be unable to participate in “Substantial Gainful Activity” or SGA: An ASGA means producing income via employment. The SGA is a set limit. For example, blind and non-blind people who are incapacitated in 2022 have an SGA amount of $2,260 and $1,350 per month, respectively. If you can get a regular income, basically, you are not considered “unable to work.”
  • You must qualify as incapacitated: This means you must have some sort of long-term health condition that ensures you can’t work. The cause does not matter — it could be a disease or an accident. However, you have to fit the stringent definition of disability as defined by the SSA.

If you meet the qualifications, consider retaining an attorney or consultant to help and begin the application process online.

Copyright 2023, DailyVibe.com