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Key concepts that affect SSDI

Individuals who become disabled and are no longer able to take care of themselves and their loved ones may find it hard to survive. For this reason, there is government assistance available, such as SSDI benefits.

If you or a loved one seek SSDI, it is important to understand what you may expect and what the government expects of you. When dealing with SSDI, there are a few key concepts you should know.


The Social Security Administration provides their definition of disability, which they use in determining eligibility for SSDI. The law defines disability as an inability to engage in any gainful act due to a medical condition, whether physical or mental, that will result in death or will last for at least a year's time. If an individual's disability does not meet this definition of disability, then it may be necessary to seek other forms of assistance.


Outside of meeting the requirements of disability by definition, there are additional criteria that determine if an individual is eligible for assistance. The main qualifiers include:

  • Paid FICA taxes to the SSA for a certain number of years
  • Receive less than a certain amount of money in income
  • Fulfill residency or citizenship requirements

Depending upon the individual's situations, the requirement amounts may vary. For example, the length of paying taxes usually ranges between five and 10 years.

Application process

Individuals may file the necessary paperwork with the SSA office in person, online, by mail or over the phone. The SSA and the state offices review the application and any subsequent information, gather any relevant evidence and then make a determination. 

Trial work period

A trial work period for SSDI is a nine-month period over a five-year time span that an individual may work and still receive SSDI. This allows individuals the opportunity to try to re-enter the workforce without compromising their wellbeing.

These are a few of the key concepts you should know concerning SSDI. Take some time to explore this government benefit for yourself to see what all may be available to you.

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