What are Social Security Disability Benefits?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

There are two types of social security disability benefits. One of these is only available to those people who have worked long enough to qualify for disability payments, and it will be given if the US government determines a person has a qualifying disability. The other form of benefits for which some people, even children, may be eligible is not based on the amount a time a person has worked. Instead, supplemental security income may be available to those with a disability that also meet certain financial need criteria.

Many people collect social security benefits when they reach retirement age.
Many people collect social security benefits when they reach retirement age.

The first of these types of benefits has rigid standards people must meet. In order to get true social security disability benefits, people must have worked a set period of time. They can be under retirement age when disability occurs. The US also requires that people must have a disability that will affect their ability to work for at least a year or that the disability will cause death.

People obtain such benefits by initially applying at a local social security department and they will likely need doctors to confirm the disability. It may be necessary for them to undergo interviews with doctors working for the Social Security Agency, and sadly there is a high rate of denial on applications for social security disability benefits and supplemental security income. Though the government has repeatedly denied a policy of excess denials, there is now a thriving legal business to appeal or sue for benefits that were not given. It is important to note that a legitimate claim should always be appealed, but this may be difficult for those with challenging disabilities.

Social security disability benefits continue until such time as disability is no longer a factor or to retirement age, when benefits become retirement earnings. They may also be available in some part to dependents of a person with a disability, which may help, since they are not huge, even at their maximum payments. The way in which supplement security income is paid, determined, and discontinued are slightly different.

Supplemental security income is paid based on financial need and disability. A person may remain disabled and have an income that is too large to qualify for benefits. As with social security disability benefits, evidence of disability may be periodically reviewed. Routine denials should be appealed if the claim is legitimate.

One matter different in the two programs is type of health benefits to which a person might be entitled. When receiving disability, people may also be eligible for participation in the Medicare program, no matter their age. Those who receive supplemental security income are likely to automatically qualify for Medicaid. They may not even need to apply separately, but should inquire with Social Security employees.

Medicaid qualification can prove useful and applies even if a person holds private insurance. It could be particularly helpful in meeting insurance copayments. For those without insurance, it offers free care from any provider that accepts Medicaid.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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