In Depth:  Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)


  •  SSDI pays monthly benefits to workers who cannot work due to a serious illness or impairment that is expected to last at least a year or to result in death.
  • It is part of the same Social Security program that also pays retirement benefits.
  • Benefits are based on the disabled worker’s past earnings and earned work credits.
  • To be eligible, a disabled worker must have worked in jobs covered by Social Security earning “work credits” the longer he or she works.
  • Benefits are paid to the disabled worker and his or her dependent family members.
  • There is a 5-month waiting period after the onset of disability before payments begin. If someone suffered a disabling injury in January and met Social Security’s disability definition, he or she would become eligible for the first disability payment for July.
  • Individuals awarded Social Security disability insurance (DI) become eligible for Medicare after receiving DI for two (2) years.

Case Highlight

Client was 52 years old, with a 6th grade education, past work history as a tow truck driver and diabetes. He was extremely difficult to work with because he hated attorneys, thought all doctors were quacks, and had a long history of noncompliance. He had three ClaimAid advocates, myself included, working on his behalf.  After 2 years working through the Social Security appeals process, he was awarded benefits within 8 MINUTES at his hearing!  The client had tears in his eyes and gave me a big hug! 

Later that evening, his wife left me a message saying that she had Stage IV cancer and could now die in peace knowing ClaimAid was able to secure him the benefits he most desperately needed!