Program Description

Social Security's Disability Insurance Benefits are federally funded and administered by the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA). Social Security pays disability benefits to you and certain members of your family if you have worked long enough and have a medical condition that prevents you from working for at least 12 months or is expected to end in death. Studies show that a 20-year-old worker has a 1-in-4 chance of becoming disabled before reaching full retirement age.

Program Requirements

To qualify for disability benefits, you must:

  • Be unable to work because you have a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death.
  • Not have a partial or short-term disability.
  • Meet SSA’s  definition of a disability.
  • Be younger than your full retirement age.

Certain family members of disabled workers may be eligible to receive benefits based on the work of the disabled worker.

Based on the information you gave, although you indicated that you have a disability, your medical condition must be so severe that you will be unable to work for at least 12 months. Social Security does not provide temporary or short-term disability benefits. If your doctor changes the estimate for how long your condition will last, you should contact SSA to apply for benefits.

To see the listing of impairments that can qualify for disability, visit the "Adult Listing of Impairments" page. Even if your condition is not included in the listing, you still could get benefits.

Contact Information

Would you like more information about disability benefits? 

Visit SSA's Publications Page and review "Disability," Social Security Publication Number 05-10029.

Benefit Categories
Disability Assistance Social Security
Family Social Security
Spouse & Widow(er) Social Security