Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI)

For millions of Americans, unexpected events such as an accident or an illness have rendered them unable to earn a living. More than sixty (60) years ago the United States Congress responded to this serious problem by creating a Federal program to help disabled Americans. This disability benefits program is a part of the Social Security System.

Every worker has a FICA deduction withheld from his/her paycheck. A portion of this deduction is used to fund the Social Security disability benefits program. It is essentially an insurance program. A worker pays into the system, and in return the worker is eligible for benefits in the event he/she becomes unable to work.

In order to receive SSDI, you must be “eligible”. To be “eligible”, you must have paid Social Security taxes for a certain number of quarters. The required number of quarters varies depending upon your age. However, as a general rule, you need to have worked 5 of the 10 years prior to your disability.

You may also be eligible if you are divorced or widowed, based upon your former spouse’s payment of Social Security taxes. If you are not an “eligible” person, you are not entitled to Social Security disability benefits and SSA will not look at your medical condition.