Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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How Do Disability Payments WorkDisability benefits are paid to people who are unable to work due to a medical condition. Statistics from the Social Security web site indicate that everyone aged 20-65 stands a 30% chance of needing help for a disability.

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In order to under stand who is considered disabled and who is eligible to receive benefits, it’s important to know the government’s definition of disability.

Definition of Disability

For Social Security benefit purposes, a person who is disabled must have a medical condition that is expected to last at least 12 months or result in the individual’s death. An individual who has trouble walking, sitting or concentrating may be considered for disability benefits, so long as he or she is no longer able to work.

Part of the process of considering Social Security disability applications is to look at whether the individual can perform the duties of his or her regular job. If they are unable to do so, the next step is to look at whether they can do any job. To qualify for disability payments, the person must be unable to work at any job.

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Earnings Requirement for Social Security Disability

To qualify for disability payments under Social Security, an applicant must have been paying Social Security taxes. The agency looks at the length of time the applicant worked and when he or she was employed to determine whether they qualify for benefits. In the case of a person who is blind, he or she is only required to show that they worked long enough to qualify for Social Security benefits.

If a person became disabled in or before the quarter of the year he or she turned 24, they must have worked at least 1.5 years of the three years immediately prior to the disability. An individual who becomes disabled in the quarter year he or she turned 31 or later must have worked at least five years out of the 10 preceding the disability.

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Decision Made on the Claim

The decision about whether to pay Social Security benefits is sent to the applicant by letter. It also sets out the amount of the monthly benefit. If the application is not approved, then the letter will indicate this fact.

A person who has been turned down for Social Security has the right to appeal the decision, and the procedure for doing so is set out in the letter. He or she can choose to be represented by an attorney for the appeal.

When Social Security approves a claim for benefits, the first payment is made in the sixth month after the disability started. Social Security benefits are paid in the month after they are due. A person who is entitled to a benefit payment for June will receive it in July. The amount of Social Security benefits payable will depend on the applicant’s lifetime earnings.

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Along with the disabled person, other family members may be eligible to receive benefits. A disabled person’s spouse who is age 62 or older or a spouse or any age who is caring for children under the age of 16 may be entitled to benefits. A disabled person’s spouse who is caring for a disabled child of any age is one of the family members who can receive financial help from Social Security.

Unmarried children who are under the age of 18 and attending school full time may also qualify for benefits. Unmarried children who are over 18 and became disabled before the age of 22 may also be entitled to benefits. The criteria for determining disability are the same for children as for adult applicants for benefits.

A divorced spouse may also be entitled to benefits in certain cases. If the former spouse is 62 years of age or older and was married to the applicant for at least 10 years, then a payment may be made based on the disabled person’s earnings. The divorced spouse cannot be currently married to qualify for this benefit, though.

Social Security disability benefits are payable to people who are unable to work due to a medical condition that is expected to be long-term or lead to the applicant’s death. To qualify the person must not only be unable to work at his or her previous job, but also be unable to work at any other job.

Social Security benefits are paid to those who qualify, based on the disabled person’s lifetime earnings. To qualify, a person must have worked for a certain number of years prior to becoming disabled. All these factors are considered when an application for benefits is received.

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