The largest federal disability programs that provide assistance to disabled individuals are Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both programs are administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

You and certain family members are eligible to receive social security disability insurance (SSDI) if you are insured. This means that you must have worked for a sufficient length of time and you must have paid Social Security taxes, otherwise you will be denied SSDI. In order to be eligible for Social Security disability benefits, you are required to have held positions that were covered by Social Security.

In addition, you need to have a medical condition that complies with the definition of a disability, according to the Social Security Administration. This administration will make monthly cash payments to people who, due to their disability, cannot work for one year or more.

You will receive benefits until such time as you are able to resume working on a regular basis. As you make the transition back to work, you may be eligible for work incentives, which offer continued benefits and coverage for health care costs.

If you are at full retirement age, and are receiving Social Security disability benefits, there is an automatic conversion of those benefits into retirement benefits. However, there is no change in the amount.

Definition of Disability

Under the Social Security rules, the term "disability" is strictly defined. The disability must be a total disability, and not a partial disability. You are considered to be disabled if:

  1. You are unable to perform the type of work that you did previously.
  2. It is determined that, due to your medical condition, you are unable to adapt to other work.
  3. The duration of your disability is a minimum of one year, or is expected to continue for at least that length of time, or to be fatal.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a government program that offers stipends to low-income individuals who are age 65 or older, blind, or disabled. The program provides cash payments for basic necessities, such as food, clothing, and shelter. You may qualify to receive SSI if:

  1. You are age 65 or older, blind, or disabled.
  2. You are a legal resident of the one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or Northern Mariana Islands. You may also qualify if your parents are in the military, and have received assignments of permanent duty abroad. In addition, you may be eligible if you are a student abroad on a temporary basis.

Should I Contact an Attorney?

If you are applying for disability benefits, you should contact a disability lawyer who can help you with your application by assisting you in proving your eligibility. All too often, applicants lose their social security claim and are denied benefits. However, you can increase the likelihood of winning your claim by engaging an attorney who can work with your doctors, and present a case that will result in your receipt of benefits.