Understanding Social Security Disability Programs

In order to qualify, you must meet the disability requirements, unable to be gainfully employed and qualify for a Social Security program. To be deemed disabled, your impairments are expected to last a minimum of 12 months. To decide if you are disabled Social Security uses a five step process (explained here). Understanding your entitlement will make sure you receive the largest monthly amount possible. 

Social Security Programs


The majority of people who qualify for Social Security disability qualify for either Disability Insurance Benefits (Title 2) or Supplemental Security Income (Title 16).


  • Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB): To qualify for DIB you must be disabled and have worked and paid into Social Security. The monthly amount you will receive will vary and is based on your work history and job earnings.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI): To qualify for SSI you must be disabled and meet the financial eligibility requirements of Social Security. The monthly amount is set by Social Security. The income limits are about $2,000 per individual and $3,000 per married couple. To see complete financial eligibility requirements click here.


There are also less commonly known programs under Social Security disability including:


  • Disabled Widow(er)’s Benefits (DWB) or Surviror’s Benefits: To qualify you must be deemed disabled and a surviving spouse by Social Security. There are updated eligibility and age requirements that can be viewed here.
  • Disabled Adult Child Benefits (DAC): A child with a disability may receive benefits under their parent’s’ earnings if the disabling impairment began before age 22 and she/he meets the definition of disability for adults.


Make sure you file thorough and complete applications in order to receive the full monthly amount you are entitled to. I encourage you to visit www.ssa.gov for additional information on programs and eligibility requirements.


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