Social Security disability benefits help supplement your income should you become disabled permanently or at least for more than 12 months.
Social Security Income (SSI) isn't just for retirement – it can help replace income if you become disabled. Like SSI, there are maximum income limits that apply, assuming the Social Security Administration finds you eligible. There's also a maximum amount you may receive, which is based on your lifetime average earnings. You can view your average earnings by accessing your account on ssa.gov.
What are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Benefits?
Social Security disability benefits are monthly payments for disabled people who expect to be disabled for at least a year. If you are unable to work because of a medical disability, you may be eligible. To qualify, you must have been employed before your disability. If you qualify, you'll receive a monthly payment from the Social Security Administration, much like retirees receive.
Who Qualifies for Social Security Disability Payments?
In order to qualify for SSDI, you must meet the following:
- You must have a medical condition that prevents you from doing any work for at least the next 12 months (or permanently), and the Social Security Administration must approve your claim
- You must have worked and paid into the Social Security system
- You must have enough work credits to qualify for Social Security insurance benefits.
The number of credits you need depends on your age:
|Under 24||You must have six credits that you earned within the last three years|
|24 – 31||You may qualify if you worked at least 50% of the time between the age of 21 and your current age. For example, if you are 29, you must have worked at least four years (16 credits) since you were 21 years old.|
|31 - 42||You'll need 20 credits|
|42 and up||You'll need 20 credits, plus an additional credit for every year of age after 42|
What are the SSDI Maximums?
In 2020, those applying for disability benefits must make less than $1,260 per month. This has increased by $40 since the prior year when the maximum was $1,220. Blind applicants may make up to $2,110 and still qualify. If you make more than these amounts, the SSA considers this substantial gainful activity, and you wouldn't qualify for benefits.
If you qualify, you should know that the SSA also sets a 'trial work period' for those who may attempt work after collecting disability payments. The SSA allows you to try to work without risking your disability benefits. In 2020, any month you make more than $910 per month counts as a 'trial month.' Once you have nine successful months in a rolling 60-month period, your disability payments may end.
Where Can You Get Social Security Disability Payments?
You have several options when applying for Social Security disability payments:
- Apply online at ssa.gov
- Apply over the phone at 1-800-772-1213
- Apply in person at a Social Security office
If you become disabled, apply for your disability benefits right away. There is a five-month waiting period, which means you won't receive compensation until the sixth month if you are found eligible. The application process itself can take a few months, so the faster you act, the better.