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Important features of the Social Security disability program

Social Security disability provides a lifeline for people with an injury or illness that affects their ability to earn a living wage. The process is often complicated and requires a person to submit a quantity of information to Social Security. 

Two main programs allocate resources to individuals and family members who qualify for benefits. 

Social Security Disability Insurance

Social Security states that the SSDI program pays benefits to individuals and family members who qualify for the program. Qualification requires that participants have a recent history of payments to Social Security through taxes on earnings. The qualification process includes both time worked and how recently a person worked. 

In general, a person who earned 40 credits, with 20 of those credits occurring in the past ten years, qualifies for disability payments. Modifications to this formula sometimes allow younger workers to qualify with less work credits. Currently, workers earn credits by making at least $1,410 in a quarter. 

The SSDI program also requires a medical qualification. Unlike many other programs, individuals must have a permanent or long-term disability to qualify for payments. 

Supplemental Security Income

AARP covers some of the requirements for eligibility for Supplemental Security Income.  Recipients of payments must meet the three following requirements 

  1. Age 65 or older, blind or disabled 
  2. U.S. citizen or lawful resident 
  3. Limited income or financial resources 

For 2021, earnings must not exceed $794 a month for an individual and $1,191 a month for a couple to qualify for the program. Social Security decides payments on a case-by-case basis, factoring in many rules and calculations.