Social Security Disability FAQS

Who can get disability benefits under Social Security?

Under the Social Security Disability Insurance program (Title II of the Act), there are three basic categories of individuals who can qualify for benefits on the basis of disability:

  • A disabled insured worker under full retirement age.
  • An individual disabled since childhood (before age 22) who is a dependent of a parent entitled to Title II disability or retirement benefits or was a dependent of a deceased insured parent.
  • Disabled widow or widower, at least age 50 if the deceased spouse was insured under Social Security.

Under title XVI, or SSI, there are two basic categories under which a financially needy person can get payments based on disability:

  • An adult age 18 or over who is disabled.
  • Child (under age 18) who is disabled.

When do disability benefits start?

There is a five month waiting period for disabled workers and widows for SSA to determine the disability and process the claim.  Therefore, Social Security disability benefits will be paid for the sixth full month after the date the disability began. The 5-month waiting period does not apply to individuals filing as children of workers or SSI claims. Under SSI, disability payments may begin as early as the first full month after the individual applied or became eligible for SSI.

In addition, under the SSI disability program, an applicant may be found “presumptively disabled or blind,” and receive cash payments for up to 6 months while the formal disability determination is made. The presumptive payment is designed to allow a needy individual to meet his or her basic living expenses during the time it takes to process the application. If it is finally determined that the individual is not disabled, he or she is not required to refund the payments. There is no provision for a finding of presumptive disability or blindness under the Title II program.

Can I work without losing my Social Security disability benefits?

Social Security Administration (SSA) allows a trial period of 9 months for somebody to test ability to work without losing the benefits. As long as that person remains disabled, he/she can get full Social Security disability benefits during those nine months no matter how much was earned.

After your nine-month trial work period, SSA  still provide a safety net that allows you to work another three years risk free. During those three years, you can work and still receive benefits for any month in which your earnings do not exceed these limits:

  • $1,800 for blind individuals; or
  • $1,070 a month if you are not blind.

What impairments can qualify me for Social Security Disability benefits?

SSA relies on the applicant’s disability using medical proofs/records to determine if the applicant has a condition (s) listed in the listing at impairments. – Adult Listings (Part A)

If the condition is found in the list, SSA will consider the medical condition to be disabling.  Even if your particular medical condition(s) is not on the list, you may still be considered disabled.

How long will I be receiving social security disability benefits?

Your disability benefits will continue as long as your medical condition has not improved and you cannot work. SSA will review your case from time-to-time to make sure you are still disabled.

If you are still receiving disability benefits when you reach full retirement age, your disability benefits will automatically convert to retirement benefits.

For more FAQs visit the Social Security Administration website here. You can also read about FAQs on disabled children here.

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