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Social Security Disability Insurance (called SSD or SSDI) is a benefit system that distributes monthly income to individuals who are disabled and have paid a certain level of Social Security taxes. In order to qualify, a person must meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) definition of disability, and their disability must be expected to last at least a year or longer. The amount a person is eligible to receive is calculated by the SSA into a Primary Insurance Amount which takes into account multiple factors like the amount of taxes paid and the person’s income level. In some situations, a spouse or child may be eligible to receive SSDI payments due to another family member’s disability status. 

In order to apply for SSDI, a person must file an application with the SSA, and many people use a special representative or lawyer to aid them in filing the application. The application usually takes over 100 days to be reviewed, and if a person is denied benefits, there are multiple levels for a person to appeal the decision. For more information on applying for or appealing a decision for SSDI payments, click here

SSDI is not to be confused with Supplemental Security Income (SSI) which pays monthly benefits to disabled or elderly individuals with low incomes. Unlike SSDI, individuals can only receive SSI payments if they are below a certain income level, but SSDI does not base a person’s eligibility for benefits on their income level. 

[Last updated in August of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]