Disability Benefits

Disability payments are benefits paid by an insurance company to an insured individual in the event of disability. Disability benefits under Social Security are divided into two distinct programs:

Certain disabled individuals qualify for both programs, while others receive benefits from only one.

SSI is a “need-based” disability payment that is paid to any disabled individual who qualifies. There are no eligibility restrictions regarding age or employment history, however there are severe income and financial asset limits. In other words, individuals who qualify for SSI payments have limited income and other financial resources available to meet their basic necessities.

SSDI is a government-funded program that provides benefits to qualifying disabled workers and, in some situations, their dependents or survivors. To qualify for SSDI, a handicapped worker must have a significant work history and have contributed to the SSDI fund via Social Security taxes, which are included in self-employment and FICA taxes.

The Social Security Administration, in addition to providing SSI and SSDI, pays disability benefits to handicapped children, adult children that are disabled, and disabled widows or widowers of insured workers. Individuals who qualify based on the employment history of another may refer to their benefits in a variety of ways, including the following:

  • Benefits for Disabled Children
  • Adult Child Benefits for the Disabled
  • Benefits for Disabled Widows and Widowers

The word “disability benefits” may also refer to payments paid to disabled individuals under a variety of other insurance systems, such as short- or long-term employer-sponsored or privately acquired disability plans, as well as state-sponsored disability coverage for workers.

When some individuals discuss disability benefits, they may also be referring to other types of benefits for which recipients of SSI and/or SSDI may be eligible, such as Medicaid or Medicare.