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7 Things You Need to Know about Disability Benefits

7 Things You Need to Know about Disability Benefits

Thinking about claiming disability benefits? Here are 7 things you need to know before you get started.


There are many types of disability programs. 

The United States has several different types of programs for people with disabilities. The two most well-known programs are Social Security Disability Insurance (or SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (or SSI). Both of these are run by the Social Security Administration. 

SSDI pays disability benefits to you or certain members of your family if you are insured. You become insured by meeting minimum work requirements and paying Social Security taxes. SSI pays extra benefits based on financial need. 

Veterans who have served in the military may be eligible for disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well. Those who become disabled while working may also be eligible for long-term disability benefits from their former employers. In this video, though, we’ll mostly be discussing the Social Security programs. 

The disability must be long-term. 

The Department of Veterans Affairs is the only disability program I know of that pays for partial disabilities. Social Security requires a severe, long-term disability that prevents you from doing the same work that you did before. Generally, your disability must have lasted or be expected to last for at least one year or result in death. 


Most disability benefits programs have income limits. 

You can work while receiving disability benefits but you may lose your benefits if you earn too much money. The Social Security Administration considered $1,310 per month to be “substantial” earnings, which means that you can’t earn much without losing your benefits. 

Each program maintains a list of eligible disabilities.

Each disability program maintains a list of eligible disabilities. Knowing what’s on this list can make a big difference when you apply for benefits, so this is going to be something that we dive into in greater detail in another video.

There are maximum benefits amounts.

In 2021, the maximum benefits from Social Security Disability are $3,011 per month. The maximum payout from SSI is $794 for an individual and $1,191 for a couple.

You may be eligible for other assistance.

If you are eligible for disability benefits, then you may also be eligible for other assistance programs including Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps and more. It’s hard to get by on disability benefits alone, but these other programs can make it a little easier.

It can take years to receive benefits.

Although the Social Security Administration claims that it only takes 3-5 months to get a decision on your application, it often takes much longer. The majority of applications are denied the first time, which means that you may need to appeal. The appeals process can take a long time, depending on the complexity of your case. 

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