Eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance

Background

To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, a person must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) as a result of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that can be expected to last at least one year or result in death. SGA is measured in terms of earnings. In 2019, SGA for nonblind individuals is defined as an activity resulting in monthly earnings of at least $1,220 ($2,040 for blind individuals).

After 24 months, SSDI beneficiaries are also eligible for Medicare Authorized in 1965 under Title XVIII of the Social Security Act, Medicare provides health insurance coverage for people age 65 and older and for some disabled people under age 65. This federal program consists of Part A (Hospital Insurance), Part B (Supplemental Medical Insurance), Part… —including Part A (Hospital Insurance), Part B (Supplemental Medical Insurance), Part C ( Medicare Advantage Medicare beneficiaries can get their Medicare benefits through Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan. If beneficiaries have Original Medicare, the government pays for Medicare benefits when they get them. Medicare Advantage Plans, sometimes called “Part C” or “MA Plans,” are… ), and Part D (Prescription Drugs). This waiting period creates significant hardships for many beneficiaries who may not receive needed medical care or may draw down their life savings to pay for care.

The program currently excludes some people in need. Social Security does not provide temporary disability insurance, which would partially compensate for lost wages resulting from pregnancy and temporary nonoccupational disabilities. Nor does it provide benefits for permanent impairments that limit but do not preclude work.

A 21st-century disability policy could place greater emphasis on people’s ability to work. Rather than forcing people who need assistance to prove that they are permanently and totally disabled, federal disability programs could be expanded to provide more limited but reliable financial support to individuals who have some capacity to work. It could also provide time-limited assistance to people at risk of having a short-term disability turn into a long-term one.

ELIGIBILITY FOR SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY INSURANCE: Policy

Expanding disability insurance eligibility

In this policy: Federal

The Social Security Administration should explore options for expanding federal disability benefits to include short-term and partial disability benefits, including assessments of cost.

Policymakers should eliminate the existing 24-month Medicare Authorized in 1965 under Title XVIII of the Social Security Act, Medicare provides health insurance coverage for people age 65 and older and for some disabled people under age 65. This federal program consists of Part A (Hospital Insurance), Part B (Supplemental Medical Insurance), Part… waiting period for Social Security Disability Insurance beneficiaries.