An Introduction to Disability Benefits

Social Security wants you to work if you can and want to work.

A common misconception about disability benefits, whether it’s Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income, is that you are not permitted to work and be entitled to or eligible for benefits. But having a disability does not mean that you are unable to perform every job task.

The truth is, Social Security Administration encourages you to work if you can work and if you want to work. You just have to be aware that the amount of countable earned income you receive may affect your entitlement to or eligibility for benefits, and may affect your disability benefits or the amount of supplemental income benefits you receive.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI):

Is a benefit to you if you become disabled and

  • To qualify, you must have worked to meet an insured status, or
  • You must have a parent or spouse who is disabled, retired, or deceased.

Supplemental Security income (SSI):

Is a needs-based program for persons with low incomes who are

  • blind,
  • 65 or older, or
  • disabled.

For individuals with disabilities who have never worked, or those who haven’t worked long enough in recent years to qualify for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), SSI may be the only program available to them.


The Social Security Administration (SSA) is the federal agency that regulates the criteria and policies and procedures for approval for both of these disability benefits.

SSA is an excellent resource for questions you may have about the application process and all of the nuances involved in the disability process and procedure.

Visit for Information Guides and Frequently Asked Questions about all aspects of disability benefits.

You can apply for disability benefits online!

You can complete the Medical History and Disability Report online for Supplemental Security Income but you must make an appointment to file the application itself for SSI through social security!

  • It can be as easy as making an appointment to file for benefits by telephone or in person. But YOU control the information social security gets when YOU file online.
  • For more application tips, check out the video below.

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