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What is Social Security Disability Insurance?

Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI is a program through which the U.S. government provides monthly cash benefits to individuals who are not able to work for one year or more because of a serious illness, injury, or handicap. SSDI should not be confused with other programs that may provide short-term assistance. It is, in fact, designed to help provide benefits for individuals who cannot work because of their long-term disabilities, such as blindness, or illnesses, such as cancer.

The Social Security Administration or SSA is the agency through which SSDI is administered.  SSA also oversees Medicare, a health insurance program for people who have qualified for SSDI benefits. Tax revenues are put into the Social Security trust fund, which is the funding source for both programs. You can click here to know more about Social Security Disability Insurance.

SSDI is funded through both payroll taxes and general government funds. The amount of each tax is split between employers’ and employees’ contributions (4.2 percent each). Self-employed individuals must pay the full amount on their own behalf (12.4%).

Who is Eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits?

SSDI payments are made to individuals who have worked and paid into the Social Security trust fund. Though anyone who is insured for SSDI benefits may file for them, eligibility is determined based on a number of factors. SSDI benefit payments are available only for individuals who can no longer work due to a serious medical condition or illness.

Other eligibility requirements include:

  • Your disability must be expected to last at least 12 months or result in death. Otherwise, you must be receiving cancer treatment. In that case, your condition may be considered immediately disabling.
  • You must have worked and paid Social Security taxes long enough, generally at least five of the 10 years before you became disabled or died, to generate sufficient credits to meet the minimum work requirement.
  • You must be under a certain age. Although the age differs based on whether you are eligible for benefits due to a disability, or because of any terminal illnesses.
  • If you are disabled but not yet of retirement age, you may apply for SSDI benefits if your disability has lasted or is expected to last for 12 continuous months or may result in death.
  • If you have a fatal disease that was diagnosed before you became disabled and meet certain requirements, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) even if your disability has not lasted 12 months or led to death.