Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

The Basics

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal program that gives monthly payments to people who have worked, paid Social Security taxes, and now have disabilities that limit their ability to work.

There are two basic rules for getting SSDI:

You must meet both of these requirements to get SSDI benefits. However, there are some other situations where you may get similar benefits from Social Security:

  • If you are an adult with a disability that began before you turned 22, you may qualify for Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB; also called Disabled Adult Child or DAC).

  • If you haven't turned 19 yet, you may qualify for child's benefits if one of your parents gets SSDI or Social Security retirement benefits, or if a parent died. You do not need to have a disability.
  • If your spouse or ex-spouse qualifies for SSDI or Social Security retirement benefits, or qualified before dying, you may be able to get Disabled Widow(er) benefits.

If you qualify for SSDI or these other benefits, the amount you get each month is based on your Social Security earnings record (or the record of your parent or spouse). The more you’ve worked and the more you’ve paid in Social Security taxes, the higher your benefits will be.

After getting benefits for two years, you automatically get Medicare health coverage.

If you get SSDI benefits and start working, SSDI has rules and incentives that can help you work without having to worry that you’ll lose the benefits you need.

Don't Get SSDI Mixed Up With Other Programs

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two public disability benefits programs with very similar names:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) gives monthly payments to people with disabilities who qualify because they used to work. SSDI is explained in this article.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) gives monthly payments to people with disabilities who have low income and low resources. You do not need to have worked in the past to get SSI. Learn more in DB101’s SSI article.

Some people qualify for SSDI and SSI at the same time. If you get benefits from Social Security, but aren't sure which ones you get, open a free my Social Security account or order a free Benefits Planning Query (BPQY) at your local Social Security office or by calling 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778 (TTY).

Get Expert Help

If you have questions about SSDI and need to talk with somebody, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778 (TTY) or visit your local Social Security office.

If you want to ask about how work might affect your SSDI benefits, try contacting:

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