Social Security Disability Benefits Pillar Page

Social Security disability benefits for seniors are provided by the federal and state government to financially assist disabled individuals and help them maintain a good quality of life. SS disability benefits are a monthly monetary allotment that disabled senior citizens and other individuals receive to help them afford care and daily expenses. Social Security benefits for disabled seniors can greatly improve the quality of life of aging individuals as it can supplement their savings and help them pay for medical expenses.

These disability resources for seniors on Social Security are readily available to all those who qualify and can help enhance the living situations of disabled seniors in need. If you feel that you may qualify for disability benefits, you should apply as soon as possible. To learn about how to apply for Social Security disability benefits for seniors, who qualifies for assistance and how these benefits can help senior citizens, continue reading the sections below.

Who is eligible for Social Security disability benefits?

Eligibility for Social Security disability benefits for seniors is determined by a few factors. The following are requirements for Social Security disability for seniors set by the Social Security Administration:

  • Social Security credits earned – To receive any form of Social Security insurance, an applicant must earn enough Social Security credits. These credits are earned over time by working for a company or organization where Social Security taxes were taken out of your paycheck. With enough credits, you will be eligible for Social Security disability benefits until you are once again able to resume work.
  • Disability – Qualifying for Social Security senior disability benefits allows you the time to recuperate from a serious injury, and gives you funds that take care of your medical expenses throughout the duration of your disability, even if it is permanent. Depending on the severity of your injury and disability, the Social Security Administration will decide if you are eligible for SS insurance.
  • Time unable to work – Eligibility for SS disability benefits for seniors is also dependent on the amount of time you will be unable to work due to your disability. You must be rendered unable to work in any capacity for one year or more due to the severity of your injury in order to qualify for benefits. After the one year period, you may begin to partially work and continue to receive benefits until you are fully capacitated.

How do I apply for Social Security disability benefits?

To submit a Social Security disability application for seniors, applicants may choose from a few different options. The following describe all the possible application methods:

  • In Person – You can apply for SS disability for senior citizens by finding the closet Social Security Administration office in your area. You can fill out a Social Security disability application before you go to the office or while you are there. It is recommended to fill out an application beforehand and make an appointment to avoid lines and accelerate the process. However, be aware that office wait times can be unpredictable and you may need to wait for extended periods of time even with an appointment.
  • By Mail – You can submit an SS disability application for seniors by acquiring the address to your local SS office and mailing in your completed paper application. Mailing your Social Security disability application for seniors is the slowest application method because you will need to account for mailing time and any delays that may occur along the way. You should also be aware that your application may get lost in the mail, which will cause additional delays to the application process.
  • By Phone – If you prefer to have a representative fill out the application for you, you also have the options of applying by phone. You will need to provide the representative with all the information they need to fill out your SS disability application, and you may need to go over this information several times to ensure that it is input correctly. Be aware that applying for SS disability benefits by phone may take a while and you may need to be put on hold if there are not enough available representatives.
  • Online – Applying for Social Security disability benefits for seniors is more efficiently done online through the Social Security Administration’s website. Online applications are easy to fill out, keep your information safe and private, and offer you the fastest wait time. Your SS disability application will be processed quickly and you will be able to verify all the information yourself and ensure that it is correct.

What documents do I need to apply for Social Security disability benefits?

To confirm your eligibility for Social Security disability benefits for seniors, you will need to provide the proper documents to a Social Security representative. As you fill out your SS benefit application, you will need the following documents and information on hand:

  • Medical history
  • Social Security Number
  • Alien Registration Number
  • Employment history
  • Education history
  • Marriage License (if seeking benefits for a disabled spouse)

The Social Security representative reviewing your SS benefit application will need the aforementioned documents and information to verify the severity of your disability, your accumulated SS credits, citizenship status and your current employment status. Social Security disability benefits for seniors are also dependent on age, as disability benefits become retirement benefits upon a senior turning full retirement age. If you are the spouse of a disabled individual, you may receive benefits on his or her behalf if your spouse is unable to. However, you will need to fill out additional paper work to become your spouse’s legal representative.

How do I determine my Social Security disability benefit amount?

To determine how much you will get for your disability benefits, you must consider a few different aspects. Your disability benefit amount is usually based on the following factors:

  • Social Security credits earned
  • Income
  • Time worked
  • Severity of disability

You are only eligible of receiving SS disability benefits if you have accumulated the appropriate amount of Social Security credits by paying Social Security taxes at work. These credits accumulate over time as you work, which is why it is important to factor in the time you have worked and paid Social Security taxes. Your Social Security disability benefit allotment may also not exceed 80 percent of the total gross income you made before becoming disabled. In addition, depending on the severity of your disability, you may qualify to receive benefits for extended periods of time if the credits in your policy are enough to extend your benefits. Your complete disability benefit amount will be decided based on a combination of all of the aforementioned factors and may change over time according to your eligibility status. To find out more about how disability benefits are calculated, you can read our detailed guide on determining your disability benefit allotment.

Can I work while receiving Social Security disability benefits?

To be eligible for Social Security disability benefits, you must be unable to work in any capacity for one year or more. This includes:

  • Not being able to continue work at your current job.
  • Not being able to use your skills or work experience to acquire a less demanding job while you recover.
  • Not being able to physically or mentally do any work that leads to obtaining a profit.

However, you may perform minimal work for profit while you are on SS disability after the first year has passed as a part of preparing to reenter the workforce. The jobs you acquire may be freelance or odd jobs that will help you readjust to working again before you take on a full-time position after fully recovering. To continue receiving Social Security disability benefits for seniors while you recover, you must make less than $1,000 a month in the working year in which you will receive benefits. The income limit is solely based on any taxable income you may receive while disabled and does not include any additional benefits or government assistance you may receive, such as Workers Compensation, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, Medicaid assistance, etc. Be aware that eligibility for Social Security disability benefits for seniors who are legally blind is slightly different and the income requirement will be more flexible in these cases.

When will I receive my Social Security benefits?

You will receive your Social Security disability benefits for seniors at the beginning of the first month after you receive your benefit verification letter. For example, if you received your verification letter in April, your SS benefit allotment will begin on the disbursement week of the following month. If your SS benefits are delayed beyond that, you may want to check your status on your Social Security account or contact a Social Security representative to inform them of the delay. However, it is recommended to wait a few days if you are receiving a benefit check to come in the mail, as your allotment may simply be delayed in transit by a few days. If you receive your Social Security benefits through direct deposit, it is recommended that you contact your bank before calling the Social Security Administration as your funds may not be available right away depending on the bank you use. Be aware that your Social Security disability benefit verification card may also take a few weeks to reach you even if your request is accepted, so feel free to frequently check your status online to find out your designation as soon as possible. Keep in mind that your SS disability benefit allotment will not be available until after you have received the physical copy of your benefit verification card even if your application has been approved.

How do I receive my Social Security disability benefits?

After receiving your benefit verification letter, your Social Security benefits will become available in one of two ways. The following are the available methods you can use:

  • By Mail – Your Social Security disability benefits for seniors can be mailed directly to your home if you prefer to receive a physical check. However, be aware that your SS disability benefits may end up delayed due to unforeseen circumstances or dangerous weather conditions. When choosing to mail your disability check, you also run the risk of having your allotment lost in the mail and having to wait an extended period of time for the Social Security office to mail you a replacement.
  • Direct Deposit – Getting your Social Security disability benefits through direct deposit is the fastest and safest way to receive your disability benefit allotment. When you apply for SS disability for senior citizens, you will be given the options to provide your banking and routing information in order to receive your benefits through direct deposit. If you did not give your banking information on your initial application, you will still be able to receive direct deposit by changing your allotment preferences in your Social Security account. Once you provide the Social Security Administration with your banking information, you will received your monetary allotment through secure channels every month.

What can I use my Social Security disability benefits on?

Social Security disability benefits for seniors can be used for any and all financial needs. You can use your benefits to:

  • Pay bills
  • Pay medical expenses
  • Cover every day expenses
  • Supplement savings and other income

Social Security benefits for disabled seniors is given to each recipient as a monetary allotment once a month and can be treated as cash. Disability benefit recipients may use their benefits to pay for any of the aforementioned necessities and more. Individuals can have the allotment stay in their checking account and use the debit card connected to it to access and use their funds. As long as a recipient has available funds, there are no restrictions on what the disability benefit allotment can be used on.

What’s the difference between Social Security disability and retirement?

The greatest difference between Social Security disability benefits and retirement benefits, is that you can receive disability benefits far before you can receive retirement benefits. While Social Security disability benefits for seniors can be allotted at any time as long as an individual has accumulated enough Social Security credits and has proof of a severe disability, retirement benefits are based on credits and an individual’s age. However, if you are receiving disability benefits when you turn full retirement age, your monthly benefit allotment will stay the same but convert to retirement benefits instead. Both SS disability benefits for seniors and retirement benefits come from the same benefit pool of Social Security taxes and, therefore, are payable in the same way. Once you are eligible for retirement, your SS disability benefits and retirement benefits are seen as the same allotment.

What is substantial gainful activity (SGA)?

To be eligible for Social Security disability benefits you must not engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). SGA is one of the criterial for determining your eligibility for disability benefits and refers to the work done by an applicant that is physically or mentally taxing and provides some sort of profit as an end result. Individuals on Social Security disability benefits, are not permitted to make more than a certain amount of profit while they are receiving SS benefits or they will become ineligible to continue receiving benefits. Social Security benefit applicants are permitted to do minimal work as their condition begins to improve, but if they demonstrate the ability to earn equal to or more profit than the allotment they are receiving, assistance will be stopped. SGA is the unit of measure with which the Social Security Administration measures the amount of work an individual is able to complete and the profit he or she is able to gain from it even while still disabled. To learn more about how SGA affects Social Security disability benefit eligibly, you can read our comprehensive guide that covers all the specific eligibility requirements you need to keep in mind to receive disability benefits.

Do I need to report my earnings while receiving Social Security disability benefits?

Yes. If you receive Social Security disability benefits for seniors, you will need to include your allotment amount in your tax return form. As a disabled individual on benefits, you will need to include your total SS disability benefit allotment as well as any additional disability payments and government assistance you are receiving. This allotment may not be taxed if it falls below your income tax bracket, but you must report it if you are filing jointly with a spouse that is working and receiving a substantial income that puts both of you into a taxable tax bracket. Remember that if you need to declare your SS disability benefits, there are additional forms you will need to fill out when you file your yearly tax return.

What is the ticket to work program?

Individuals receiving Social Security disability benefits are entitled to certain programs and disability resources that they can take advantage of while on benefits. The ticket to work program is only one of many programs provided by the Social Security Administration and its state offices to help improve the finances and employability of individuals receiving disability benefits. This program provides the following services to disability benefit recipients:

  • Employment assistance – The ticket to work program offers individuals on Social Security disability benefits with job search support and employment services whenever possible. Disability resources for seniors on Social Security benefits include skill improvement courses, resume workshops and other types of improved employment services. This specific aspect of the program seeks to help disabled individual re-enter the work force and maintain a job even with a disability or while recovering from a disability.
  • Financial literacy – Financial literacy courses are also offered to SS disability benefit recipients to help them reintegrate themselves into the work force. Financial literacy courses help disabled individuals manage their expenses. These courses help disabled individuals balance medical bills and every day expenses with their salary and benefit allotment to hopefully find a place in which they can become financially stable.
  • Financial independence – The end goal of the ticket to work program is to help make SS disability benefit recipients financially independent enough to reduce or discontinue the use of Social Security benefits. The program aims to make all disabled individuals as self-sufficient and financially independent as possible to better their quality of life in the long run, as a stable salary offers more support than a monthly benefit allotment.

To be eligible for this Social Security disability benefit program, the benefit recipient must be between 18 and 64 years of age and be currently receiving SS disability benefits. These disability resources for seniors on Social Security are readily available at all times and eligible applicants only need to sign up for the course they are interested in to be able to attend. To see which courses are available to you, you can check with your local Social Security Administration office.

Can workers compensation affect my Social Security disability benefit amount?

Social Security disability benefits for seniors can be affected by Workers Compensation in only a few instances. Overall, Social Security disability benefits and Workers Compensation benefits have different qualifications and you may qualify for one program, both programs or neither program depending on your situation. Social Security disability benefits are provided by the federal government and have the same requirements throughout all 50 states, while Workers Compensation is a state assistance program and has different eligibility requirements depending on the state you live in. If you qualify for both programs, you will be able to receive both allotments independently of each other without a problem. However, if your combined allotment exceeds 80 percent of your precious gross income, your Social Security disability benefit allotment will be reduced to fit the necessary benefit limit.

Another difference to keep in mind regarding Social Security disability benefits for seniors and Workers Compensation, is that Workers Compensation is a temporary service while SS benefits can last for a lifetime depending on the amount of resources in your Social Security policy. Because of the difference in benefit duration, it is important to report when you start receiving Workers Compensation and when you stop, so that your Social Security disability benefit allotment can be readjusted if it was ever reduced due to the amount of Workers Compensation benefits you received previously.