SSDI Eligibility, Benefits Social Security Disability (SSDI) Benefits, Eligibility & Compensation

  1. A person who becomes disabled before the age of retirement may be entitled to claim disability benefits in accordance with the Social Security Act. Benefits paid for Social Security Disability (SSD or SSDI) may equal the amount of money that the worker would have received at the age of retirement.

    Eligibility for Social Security Disability Benefits

    In order to be entitled to social security disability benefits, you must:
    • be younger than the normal age of retirement
    • have sufficient earnings during the legally required time period before you became disabled
    • have submitted an application form for Social Security disability benefits
    • be currently disabled or have become disabled during the twelve month period before to the time the application for Social disability benefits was filed
    • have completed a five month waiting period from the completion of a qualifying month (a month when you were both disabled and insured and thus entitled to disability benefits)

    How to Determine a Qualifying Disability

    The term “disability” is defined as a mental or physical impairment which prevents or severely limits an individual’s capacity to carry out significant gainful activities. This impairment should be expected to last for a period of longer than twelve months or to eventually cause the death of the individual. In order to determine an individual’s disability, the SSA (Social Security Administration) will carry out a thorough evaluation. Typical questions that may be asked include the following:
    • Is the individual currently engaged in any significant gainful activities or currently employed? Even if the person has a medical condition, if the answer to this question is in the affirmative, that person may not be considered “disabled” by the SSA.
    • Is the person suffering from a mental or physical impairment which will last longer than twelve months or which is expected to result in the death of the individual? In addition, does this impairment severely limit this person’s ability to carry out basic work duties? If not, the person may not be considered “disabled” by the SSA.
    • Is the impairment on the SSA List of Impairments or the equivalent of one of the impairments on this list?
    • Can the afflicted person carry out their former work duties despite the mental or physical impairment?
    • Can the afflicted person carry out other work? Will the person be able to perform alternative work when their age, education and past work history is taken into account? If the answer to this question is in the affirmative, that person may not be considered “disabled” by the SSA.

    For the first four questions, the burden to prove that a person is “disabled” is on the applicant. For the last question, this burden moves to the SSA.

    Computing Your Monthly Disability Benefits

    The amount of money you could receive monthly for Social Security disability benefits varies depending upon your average income and other income and benefits combined. Public disability benefits are intended to provide supplemental assistance to the families of disabled workers, not to provide the same or greater benefits than they would receive if they were still working.

    The disability payments that you may receive from private sources (insurance benefits or from private pensions) will not affect your Social Security disability benefits. However, public disability benefits may reduce your Social Security disability benefits – the government does not allow you to take advantage of piling on benefits from multiple public resources. Workers’ compensation benefits can be treated as a public disability benefit since those benefits may be paid by or on behalf of a federal or state workers’ compensation agency.


    Your monthly Social Security disability benefit is added to the benefits payable to your family members, your workers’ compensation payments and any other public disability payment. If the total amount of all of these benefits is greater than 80% of your average current salary or earnings, any excess amount received above the total is deducted from your Social Security disability benefit.

    EXAMPLE: Your average current earnings and salary before you became disabled was $4,000 monthly. The Social Security Disability Benefits Calculator computes that your family (spouse and two children) would be eligible to receive a $2,200 monthly payment for Social Security disability benefits. Assuming you are currently receiving workers’ compensation in the amount of $2,000 monthly, your potential eligibility for public disability benefits is $4,200 ($2,200 in Social Security disability benefits and $2,000 in workers’ compensation.) 80% of your $4,000 average salary equals $3,200, which is $1,000 less than the $4,200 of potential public disability benefits. As a result, your family’s Social Security benefits will be reduced by $1,000, from $2,200 to $1,200.

    Your Social Security disability benefits will be reduced until the month you reach age 65 or the month your other benefits stop, whichever comes first.

    Reduction and Termination of Disability Benefits

    Disability benefits may be reduced or terminated if there are changes to your circumstances. The SSA will require you to notify them of any changes in your ability to work or about any improvements to your impairment. You may be evaluated at any time to determine your continued entitlement to disability benefits. If you are to be evaluated, you will receive written notification of a modification or termination.
    In order to determine your eligibility for Social Security disability benefits and to protect yourself from reductions or termination of disability benefits you may be receiving, you may wish to speak to an experienced Social Security disability lawyer.
    Health, Medical & Social:
    Social Security - SSDI - Social Security Disability Insurance

    Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler
    Michael M. Wechsler is an experienced attorney, founder of, A. Research Scholar at Columbia Business School and of-counsel to Kaplan, Williams & Graffeo, LLC. He was also an SVP and chief Internet strategist at and legal consultant at Kroll Ontrack, a leading service e-discovery and computer forensics service provider.


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