Social Security Disability: Disability Insurance Benefits

Disability insurance benefits are monthly cash benefits paid directly to eligible persons with disabilities, throughout the period of disability. There are no restrictions on the use of these payments. The amount of the payment is based on the age at which the worker incurred the disability, and his/her earnings and length of employment.

To qualify, an individual must:

  • Have paid Social Security taxes for enough years (roughly half the years since they turned 21)
  • Not be working, or be working but earning less than the "substantial gainful activity" level
  • Have a medical disability

Benefits may be reduced if other federal, state, and local benefits are received.

After an individual applies for Social Security disability benefits, he/she must wait five months before qualifying. If the same worker returns to the disability rolls within five years of leaving the rolls, no new waiting period is required.


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