The Basics: Just how does Social Security Disability work?

What Is Social Security Disability Insurance?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is one of the three basic protections provided by Social Security. The other two are Old Age Insurance and Survivors Insurance (OASI).

When a worker’s earnings are stopped or reduced for a year or more because of a severe impairment, the worker and eligible family members can receive monthly cash benefits from SSDI. Benefits continue until the individual dies or is able to work again.

The Social Security definition of disability is very strict. Workers are considered disabled if they cannot do any work in the economy because of their medical condition(s). The disability and the inability to work must last or be expected to last for at least a year or result in death.

Who Pays for SSDI?
Each of 144.2 million workers and their employers pays 6.2 percent of the worker’s wages, up to the taxable maximum ($87,000 in 2003) into OASDI. Another 14.6 million self-employed workers pay 12.4 percent (6.2 percent as employer and 6.2 percent as employee)

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