Benefits: Social Security Disability (SSDI) and SSI Benefits

Quick Facts

There are two different Social Security Disability programs:

 1. Social Security Disability (SSDI) payments are made to workers who have worked at least 5 years in the last 10 years before becoming disabled. Benefits are based on their own work record.

2. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments are made to people (from age 1 up through age 64) who have little or no income or resources (things they own). Benefits are a government subsidy.


Are you disabled?

To get either SSDI or SSI, you must be unable to do any substantial work because of your physical or mental disabilities. Your physical or mental conditions must be so severe that you cannot earn more than $1000 per month (or $1,640 if you are blind) and the disability must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least 1 year or be expected to result in your death in order to qualify for disability.


How Do You Get Started?

If you think that you may be eligible for SSDI or SSI payments, there are 4 ways to apply:

1. By telephone: call 1-800-772-1213 from 7AM to 7PM Monday through Friday.

2. In person: To get an appointment to go to your local Social Security Office (SSA) you can call 1-800-772-1213 or you can just walk in and apply without an appointment.

3. By mail: You can call 1-800-772-1213 and request application forms be mailed to you or you can go to the social security office and ask for the forms.

4. By internet: Go to


Medical Information Needed

For each disability that keeps you from working, you need to list on your application ALL of the places where you have been treated, when you had your first and your most recent treatment there, how many visits you have made, and the address of the office or hospital. You can use old medical records, discharge papers or medical bills, to help you remember this information.

*If you have been treated under more than one name, be sure to tell Social Security.


What Happens After You Apply At SSA?

Social Security will send your application to the North Carolina Disability Determination Services (DDS) Office in Raleigh where the medical decision will be made as to whether you are disabled according to Social Security’s rules.

  • A worker at DDS will order your medical records, review them and make a decision, if they have enough information.

  • If additional information is needed you may be asked to provide more work history, a description of your daily activities, and perhaps go to a special exam that Social Security will pay for. If you need to go to a special exam, DDS will send you a letter with a date and time for the appointment. If you receive a letter telling you about an appointment with a doctor or psychiatrist, it is important that you go to the appointment as scheduled. If you have a good reason for not being able to go to the appointment, call your DDS worker as soon as possible to reschedule the appointment.

Once DDS makes a decision, you will receive a letter from SSA either approving or denying your claim for benefits.

  • If you are approved, you will receive a letter with the amount of benefits you will receive each month and when you can expect to receive it.

  • If you are denied benefits, you have a right to appeal the decision. You must appeal within 60 days of receiving the denial. Call SSA right away to appeal.

This step in the appeal process is called Reconsideration Request SSA will review your request for reconsideration and make a decision. You can add more information about your disability to your request for reconsideration.

  • If after reconsideration you are denied benefits, you have the right to appeal the decision. You must appeal within 60 days of receiving the denial. This time you will be requesting a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This step in the appeal process is known as the hearing stage.




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Last Review and Update: Jun 26, 2012
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