Disability Benefits and Coverage

What types of benefits does the Social Security Administration offer for people with disabilities?

Social Security pays benefits under two programs: the Social Security disability insurance program (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. For most people, the medical requirements for disability are the same for both programs and a person’s disability is determined by the same process.

While eligibility for Social Security disability is based on prior work, social security disability payments are made on the basis of financial need. Our office deals primarily with the Social Security disability Insurance program (SSDI). For information on SSI disability payments, ask at any Social Security office for the booklet, SSI (Publication No. 05-11000). For specific information about your case, contact Social Security.

Who can get Disability benefits?

You can receive Social Security disability benefits until age 65. When you reach age 65, your disability benefits automatically convert to retirement benefits, but the amount remains the same. Certain members of your family may qualify for benefits on your record. They include:

  • Your spouse who is age 62 or older, or any age if he or she is caring for a child of yours who is under age 16 or disabled and also receiving checks.
  • Your disabled widow or widower age 50 or older. The disability must have started before your death or within seven years after your death. (If your widow or widower caring for your children receives Social Security checks, she or he is eligible if she or he becomes disabled before those payments end or within seven years after they end.)
  • Your unmarried son or daughter, including an adopted child, or, in some cases, a stepchild or grandchild. The child must be under age 18 or under age 19 if in high school full time.
  • Your unmarried son or daughter, age 18 or older, if he or she has a disability that started before age 22. These children are considered disabled if they meet the adult definition of disability. (If a disabled child under age 18 is receiving benefits as the dependent of a retired, deceased or disabled worker, someone should contact Social Security to have his or her checks continued at age 18 on the basis of disability.)


You are considered blind under Social Security rules if your vision cannot be corrected to better than 20/200 in your better eye or if your visual field is 20 degrees or less, even with a corrective lens. There are a number of special rules for persons who are blind. The rules recognize the severe impact of blindness on a person’s ability to work.

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